Christian Witness

Sufism and Truth

John 15

(NET Bible Translation)

15:1 “I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. 15:2 He takes away every branch that does not bear fruit in me. (Ponder this…God the Father takes away every branch that does not bear fruit in Jesus.  This warning from Christ in itself refutes everything that the Sufis teach.  The Sufis do not bear fruit IN JESUS.) He prunes every branch that bears fruit so that it will bear more fruit. 15:3 You are clean already because of the word that I have spoken to you. 15:4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. (A person cannot follow the Sufi and remain in Jesus.)

15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me--and I in him—bears much fruit, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing. 15:6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown out like a branch, and dries up; and such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, and are burned up, 15:7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want, and it will be done for you. 15:8 My Father is honored by this, that you bear much fruit and show that you are my disciples.

15:9 “Just as the Father has loved me, I have also loved you; remain in my love. 15:10 If you obey my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 15:11 I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete. (One who follows the Sufi way does not experience joy in all its completeness.) 15:12 My commandment is this—to love one another just as I have loved you. 15:13 No one has greater love than this—that one lays down his life for his friends. 15:14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15:15 I no longer call you slaves, because the slave does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because I have revealed to you everything I heard from my Father. (There is no Sufi esoteric teaching that is Truth). 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that remains, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. 15:17 This I command you—to love one another.



The paper you are about to read has been written to refute the claim by the Sufis that the Sufi Way can lead to Truth, and that it is Truth.  The Sufi way is not the truth in that it does not account for the many teachings of Christ that are contrary to what the Sufis believe.  Sufis discount the crux of what Christ taught about Himself.  Much of what the Sufi teaches, I am sorry to say, is based on faulty thinking.  [I am not saying this because I desire to denigrate Sufism.  I am saying this because, after having studied the Sufi philosophy for some time, and after having been re-awakened to the Truth in Christ, I see that Sufism’s foundation is built on sand.] 

This paper will accent exactly what the Sufi way teaches by showing the source of that teaching and by utilizing the writings of various Sufis countered by my comments as coming from a perspective in Christ.  These comments will be bold-faced and in parenthesis.  As you begin to peruse this paper also keep in mind what is written in John 14:5-14:17:  Thomas said, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 14:6 Jesus replied, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 14:7 If you have known me, you will know my Father too. And from now on you do know him and have seen him.” 

One can read into the above passage that if one does not accept Christ and what He taught about Himself, then there is no way that person can know the Father.  God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is not known by such a one.  Therefore, this person, in this case the Sufi, does not and cannot know God.  This is simple logic.  So simple, a child should be able to understand.



Short Introduction into Sufism

Neo-Platonism strongly influenced the development of Sufism; therefore it is not true that Sufi thought came directly from God by way of the Koran and Mohammed.  Sufism is not the heart of Islam as Sufis teach to an unknowing public.

Neo-Platonism, as developed by Plotinus, conceives God to be the source and goal of everything. Islam qua institution is closed to all critical and philosophical thought, but Sufism enjoys a more liberal and critical approach. It is more than probable that the translations of Plotinus have provided the necessary philosophical ground for Sufism. An examination of both Sufism and Neo-Platonism reveals close similarities with regard to the nature of God, the soul, the body, concepts such as goodness, evil and beauty, death and life, and creation.


In the roots of Sufi philosophy there are influences other than Neo-Platonist philosophy. Ascetic practices within the Sufi philosophy are also associated with Buddhism. The notion of purification (cleaning one’s soul from all evil things and trying to reach Nirvana and to become immortal in Nirvana) plays an important role in Buddhism. The same idea shows itself in the belief of "vuslat" (communion with God) in Sufi philosophy.

Sufism was also influenced by Orpheus and related beliefs, and consequently by Pythagoras and his teachings, because Pythagoras was closely interested in Orpheus beliefs. Orpheus was a poet who lived in Anatolia in the 6th and 7th centuries BC. He was believed to have divine characteristics such as being able to influence wild animals with his music. He believed that the human soul can reach the highest level only by refining itself from all passions and worldly possessions. Soul travels from body to body in order to purify itself from its sins, disabilities, and guilt, and only after passing all these levels can it reach to its highest level, to its exalted spot. Pythagoras adopted Orpheus beliefs about soul, and integrated it with his own ideas. Later, the Neopythagoreans regarded Pythagoras as the source of divinely revealed knowledge. They accepted as truth whatever appealed to them in the writings of Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics

The attempts to construct a religious philosophy on the basis of Greek thought and especially the theories of Pythagoras culminated in Neo-Platonism. Plotinus, the founder of Neo-Platonism, took Plato's theory of ideas and reinterpreted them from Protagoras' point of view. According to Neo-Platonism, God is conceived as the source and goal of everything; from him everything comes, to him all things return; he is the alpha and omega, the beginning, middle and end. Communion with God or absorption in God, therefore, is the real purpose of all our strivings, and religion the heart-beat of the universe. The principal doctrine of Plotinus states that there is just one exalted God, which is a supreme power, the final cause, the cosmic force. God is the highest spiritual and creative Being.

The Sufi believes that, although the world proceeds from God, he did not create it; the universe is an emanation from God, an inevitable overflow of his infinite power or actuality. (This is not true from a Christian perspective.  God created the world, according to the Old Testament, and Christ did not refute this teaching.  Since Christ taught about His resurrection before it occurred, I will follow what Christ taught.  He teaches from authority.  Plotinus taught a philosophy which was thought to be true at the time.  However, Christ takes precedence over Plotinus—Christ did not teach what Plotinus taught.)  Plotinus employs several metaphors to suggest the meaning of emanation. God is a spring from which the spring flows without exhausting its infinite source; or, God is the sun from which the light radiates without loss to the sun. The absolute being (God) is higher than beauty, truth, goodness, consciousness, and will, for all these depend on him. The farther we are from the sun, the source of light, the nearer we are to darkness (matter). Beauty is in the structure of divine existence. Other types of existence such as matter and body are not beautiful in themselves, but rather they are beautiful as a reflection of God's beauty. Among all beings in the universe human beings are the closest to the divine essence because they have souls that strive to turn in the direction of pure thought. The truthfulness, beauty or goodness of a human being depend on its soul's actions within its body; the closer the soul of a human being gets to the source of light, the more it acquires the qualities such as truth, goodness, and beauty. Human beings reflect the appearance of God in themselves more than other life forms, and consequently they are the highest in the scale of being.

There is no aspect of Sufi philosophy that is not influenced by Neo-Platonism, therefore the claim that Sufis make concerning that their teaching emanates from the heart of Mohammed and the Koran cannot be true. Neo-Platonism existed long before the Koran ever graced the earth. This may be why Muslim scholars and clerics frown upon Sufi teachings.   

According to Sufi philosophy, Absolute being is also Absolute beauty, and since beauty tends toward manifestation Absolute being developed the phenomenal world. Human beings in this phenomenal world are the only ones that share a unity of essence with God, because they have souls. After a human being dies, his/her soul goes back to its source, to the Absolute being, while his/her body dissolves and decays. Since the soul makes a human being a person, one should practice the quiestic virtues such as poverty, austerity, humility, fortitude, and discipline; devote oneself to the ways of inwardness such as withdrawal, silence, solitariness, and self-examination; and keep in mind a constant awareness of God with faith and desire. This way, one can achieve a sense of direct communion with God which is the Absolute being behind the phenomenal world. f one follows these directions with sufficient perseverance, one will advance through the standard mystic stages of concentration, appreciation of the oneness of everything, epiphanies, i.e., sudden and unpredictable illumination, blissful ecstasy, sense of union with the Deity, sense of one's own nothingness, and sense of the nothingness beyond nothingness.

Neo-Platonism is the closest doctrine of thought to Sufi philosophy in terms of their system of belief. Now, these two doctrines need to be compared more closely, and the similarities between them need to be described in detail.

In Sufism, the universe is just an appearance of God, and does not have an independent existence. To think of the universe and the God as being separate is to deny the "Oneness" and to suggest a "duality" between God and the universe. But in reality, So Sufis teach, the God and the universe are the "One" and the same thing such that God reflects himself as the universe. It is not possible to think of God and the universe as separate entities because God is not something outside the universe as Islam favors, but rather something within the universe. As seen above, this belief was initially suggested by Neo-Platonism. They both see the existence of the universe as an emanation from God.

Sufism assumes that there is a union of God, universe and humans, and that human beings are an appearance of God; but God's appearance in the shape of a human being cannot be thought of any further than just an appearance. The reality is not a duality between God and humans, but rather a sameness, a oneness between them. A person is a talking, thinking, acting God. This idea is beautifully expressed in Yunus Emre's following verse:

I didn't know you were the eye inside of me
You were a secret essence both in body and soul
I asked you show me a symbol of you in this world
Suddenly I realized you were the whole universe


This poem expresses the idea of the oneness of God-universe-human beings. It is possible that the belief of oneness of humans and God in Sufism is carried from Neo-Platonism. In the trilogy of God-Universe-Humans, God has the highest position, second is the universe, and third is human beings. Even though humans rank last in the trilogy, they are very close to the God, and almost identical to him because of the soul they have.

Sufism and Neo-Platonism share the same beliefs about the soul. According to Neo-Platonism, the soul is a divine essence, a substance, the source of all existence. The soul is the effect, image, or copy of pure thought, namely God. It is immortal, infinite, and separate from the body. The body is a cage where the soul is trapped, and it can be freed when the body dies. The soul, by its nature, always tends toward perfection, beauty, goodness and exaltation. In Sufism the soul is treated similarly, and expressed as a divine essence in humans.

The body, like soul, is also treated similarly in both Sufism and Neo-Platonism. According to Neo-Platonism, the body is mortal, temporary, and not divine. The body tends not towards beauty and goodness, but towards ugliness and evil. What is beautiful, good, valuable and divine is not body, but the soul. The body tends towards temporary desires and wishes. The task of the soul is to purify the body from evil tendencies, and its deficiencies. The body is a cage for the soul. Sufism shares the same belief. The body is created from the earth, and will go back to the earth, and decay there. For this reason, the body is not important, and a person should not follow the desires of his/her body, but rather should turn from sensuous life to thought, and through it, to God.

For Neo-Platonism beauty means much more than mere symmetry. It involves a close relationship to the ideal reality; it is an appearance of God over the objects of the universe. Whatever the divine light shines on becomes beautiful. Sufism thinks exactly the same about beauty. In Sufism, beauty is expressed with "cemal" meaning human face, the beauty of human face. What is really expressed in "cemal" (human face) is the appearance of divine light in the face of a human. Neo-Platonism identified beauty with divine essence, and Sufism adopted the same idea. This is beautifully expressed in the following verse from Husrev:

Want to understand an example of the real essence of God
Look at the face of a beautiful woman and there see the face of God.

Realizing divine characteristics in human beauty might be an influence of Neo-Platonism in Sufi philosophy.

Both Neo-Platonism and Sufism believe that, just as beauty, goodness is also a divine virtue. Goodness is the most important among the characteristics that exalt a human being to the highest stage of being. Both in Islam, and in Sufism, goodness as a divine virtue is associated with God's will. The belief that God will recompense good deeds in blessing to human beings is not something new or original in Islamic philosophy. Goodness was first formulated systematically as a philosophical problem in Plato. Goodness, honesty, bravery, wisdom, and virtue are the main topics of Etik in Plato's philosophy. Later Plotinus reconciled Plato's philosophy with religion under the teachings of Neo-Platonism. Thus, the idea of goodness as a divine virtue in Sufism is probably carried over from Neo-Platonism. In both of these doctrines, the more the soul purifies itself from temporary passions, wishes and desires, the more harmonious it becomes with goodness.

Both Neo-Platonism and Sufism believe that death is a separation of body and soul. When a person dies, the soul as a divine essence does not die, and travels to another body while the body decomposes, decays and becomes earth again. Death is a dissociation of two entities, the soul and the body.

Sufism sees the creation as an emanation from God, as an "appearance" of God. This notion of creation is quite different from Orthodox Islamic belief of creation as coming to existence from nothing. According to this belief God created the universe, mankind, and all other living creatures from nothing but out of self-love. This belief is adopted by all monotheistic religions, such as Christianity, Judaism and Islam which assume the existence of only one God, and it probably first originated in the Old Testament. Sufism, like Neo-Platonism, explains creation in a pantheistic fashion.

Both Sufism and Neo-Platonism claim that the soul can reach exaltation by passing through certain stages. First of all, the exaltation of the soul depends on purifying itself from passions, sensual desires and wishes. Secondly, the soul, because of its divine nature, is immortal and its tendency towards temporary beings can cause it to degenerate and deteriorate. In order to prevent this, the soul must turn to itself, and try to understand its meaning. Thirdly, the soul can reach exaltation by knowing itself. The way to know thyself is through love. Love is the appearance of God, and by love one can achieve a special knowledge, knowledge of one's own self. Self-knowledge can be achieved through introspection. At the last stage, as a person knows oneself and understands the essence of the soul, one realizes that one is identical with the universe and all other creatures, and that God is the only being showing itself in all creation. Hence, one frees oneself from dualism. This is the stage of unification of God, humans and the universe. At this stage, words, such as you, and I, which imply separation and differentiation, lose their meaning; there is only "One", and this "One" is unification in the essence of God. This is the highest stage of exaltation for a person, and once one reaches this stage, one sees God in one's own self, and understand that God is the only being in the universe, and that one's self is nothing but God.

As seen above, there are very close similarities (almost identical is some aspects) between Sufism and Neo-Platonism. How they came to interact is really a question of the social and cultural environment in which Sufism flourished. As is known, Islamic philosophy has its roots mostly in the works of Aristotle which were all translated into Arabic. Islamic philosophers interpreted Aristotle from an Islamic point of view, and established their theories on the basis of Aristotle's philosophy. Through the translations of the writings of Plato and Plotinus, they also were introduced into the Anatolian culture and mingled with different ancient Anatolian beliefs, such as Orpheus. The mystic elements within Neo-Platonism, woven together with ancient Anatolian beliefs (eg, the sacredness of natural events such as the sun which is incorporated in Sufism in the belief of God's resemblance to the sun), prepared the way for liberal interpretations of Islamic principles in Sufi philosophy. Neo-Platonism seems to be the most probable underlying philosophical system of thought for Sufi philosophy.

Now, in the context of the history of thought, according to the Sufi, Sufism always insists on a return to the sources of the Islamic tradition - can be seen to have functioned at times as a positive and healthy reaction to the activity of Islamic philosophers and theologians. (But we have just read that Sufism derives the foundation of its thought from Plotinus’ thought.  It is not derived from Mohammed.)  For the Sufis, the road to spiritual knowledge - to Certainty - could never be confined to the process of rational or purely intellectual activity, without intuitive knowledge (zawq, "taste") and the direct, immediate experience of what they claim as the Heart. Truth, they believe, can be sought and found only with one's entire being; nor were they satisfied merely to know this Truth. They insist on a total identification with it: a "passing away" of the knower in the Known, of subject in the Object of knowledge. Thus, when the fourth/tenth century Sufi Hallaj proclaimed "I am the Truth" (and was martyred for it by what we could call Islamic fundamentalism), he was not violating the "First Pillar" of Islam, the belief in Unity (tawhid), but simply stated the truth from the mouth of the Truth. So the Sufis believe.  This is debatable, however.

This insistence of total involvement in "mystical" realization, and on a participative understanding of religious doctrine, sharply distinguishes Sufism from other Islamic schools of thought, so the Sufi would have one believe.  However, after having read what is written above, this appears not to be the whole truth.  Considering themselves the true core of Islam (which cannot be since much of the source of Sufi thought originates from the thought of Plotinus), Sufis appear as outsiders not only to the Islamic philosophers and theologians, but even to "ordinary" Muslims. Their peculiarity, their distinctness, manifested itself in every aspect of their lives: their daily activities, their worship, social relations, and even style or means of expression. Like mystics in all traditions, they tend to remake language and form for their own purposes, and as in all traditional civilizations, the potency and directness of their expression tends to flow out and permeate other areas not directly related to mysticism in the narrow sense: literature, the arts and crafts, etc.

Islam, according to the Sufi, gives the basic situation in which we find ourselves this interpretation: man in his ordinary state of consciousness is literally asleep ("and when he dies he wakes," as Mohammad said). He lives in a dream (which is to infer that the life is not real—which is not true.  Life is not a dream.  There is no purpose to a dream, no goal.  Life does have a purpose and a goal.  The statement that life is like a dream is false.) whether of enjoyment or suffering - a phenomenal, illusory existence. [Existence is not illusory—this thought is derived from Buddhism, a tradition that states that God is not necessary to live a life of non-suffering.] Only his lower self is awake, his "carnal soul." Whether he feels so or not, he is miserable. But potentially the situation can be changed, for ultimately man is not identical with his lower self. Man's authentic existence is in the Divine; he has a higher Self, which is true; he can attain felicity, even before death ("Die before you die," Mohammed has been cited as saying.). The call comes: to flight, migration, a journey beyond the limitations of world and self.

Imprisoned in the cage of the world (the world in its negative, "worldly" sense), man is exiled and forgetful of his true home. To keep his part of the covenant, to be faithful to his promise, he must set out on the Path from sleep to awakening. It is only the blessed few for whom this Path lasts no longer than a single step, although in theory all that is needed according to the Sufi is to "turn around" or "inside out" and be what one is. For most seekers the Path is long; one Sufi speaks of "a thousand and one" different stages.

"Everything perishes save His Face"; the first step on the Sufi path is to begin to contemplate the futility of the world of dust, the world in which one's lower self is doomed. The seeker must renounce it all, including his own self, and seek that which is Everlasting. He must travel from things to nothing, from existence to Nonexistence. (This is foreign to Christian teaching, and false from a Truth standpoint.  Christ is the truth—He did not teach that man must travel from existence to non-existence.  Therefore, this statement is false.)

How does one get lost on purpose, according to the Sufi? Our present state is one of forgetfulness toward the Divine - the true Self - and remembrance of worldly affairs and the lower self. The cure for this is a reversal: remembrance of the true Self, the Divine within, and forgetfulness toward everything else. (It would be difficult to forget all else and be a productive person in society.  This teaching also is foreign to Christian teaching.)

In Sufism the basic technique for this is invocation or "remembrance" (dhikr) of the Divine Name, which is mysteriously identical with the Divine Being. [The Divine name—what is this name?  Is it not Jesus, the son of God and God?  Sufis do not remember Christ.  They do not take part in the Last Supper.  Jesus said to eat the bread and drink the blood (wine) in remembrance of Him.  If anything, Christians participate in remembrance of God every time they participate in Eucharist.  Does the Sufi?]  The Sufi claims that through this discipline the fragments of our directionless minds are re-gathered, our outward impulse turned inward and concentrated. This is the act of a lover who thinks of nothing but his beloved.

Sufism or tasawwuf, as it is called in Arabic, is generally understood by scholars and Sufis to be the inner, mystical, or psycho-spiritual dimension of Islam. Today, however, many Muslims and non-Muslims, as I stated above, believe that Sufism is now outside the sphere of Islam.  In fact, Sufism, since its foundation is based on Plotinus’ thought, never was based on Islam, certainly not on the thought of Mohammed, as I understand his teaching.

In spite of its many variations and expressions, and the intimation that Sufism is no longer under the thralldom of Islam, the essence of Sufi practice is quite simple. It is that the Sufi surrenders to God,(their conception of God) in love, over and over; which involves embracing with love at each moment the content of one's consciousness (one's perceptions, thoughts, and feelings, as well as one's sense of self) as gifts of God or, more precisely, as manifestations of God.  While all Muslims believe that they are on the pathway to God and will become close to God in Paradise--after death and the "Final Judgment"-- Sufis believe as well that it is possible to become close to God and to experience this closeness--while one is alive.  [Christians believe that one can have an intimate personal relationship with Jesus, who is God.  One need not die to know of God.  Did not Jesus say that whoever believes in Him will experience eternal life?  Eternal life presupposes no death, does it not?  Think about it.  To experience God’s closeness is attainable for the Christian who is in Christ, and one who is in Christ will never die...

Jesus replied, “Your brother will come back to life again.” Martha said, “I know that he will come back to life again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even if he dies, and the one who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She replied, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God who comes into the world.” (John 11: 23-27.)   The person in Christ, does he/she not dwell in Eternity now?]

Furthermore, the attainment of the knowledge that comes with such intimacy with God, Sufis purport, is the very purpose of the creation. Here they mention the hadith qudsi in which God states, "I was a hidden treasure and I loved that I be known, so I created the creation in order to be known." Hence for the Sufis there is already a momentum, a continuous attraction on their hearts exerted by God, pulling them, in love, towards what they believe to be God. They experience the joyful ecstasy of being gently drawn to their Eternal Beloved, yet this primordially blissful return seems to have been interrupted. The Persian poet Hafiz remarked, “O Wine giver, pour me a cup and pass it around for love seemed easy at first, but later the difficulties arose.”

The difficulties in following the Sufi path derive primarily from one's self or ego (nafs). In other words, it can be said that if one is not recognizing or experiencing God's "closeness" or presence, the responsibility for this condition lies with one's own self.  [It must be emphasized that Sufi’s place short shrift to the Christian belief that Christ is God.  They maintain that Christ is a prophet, which denies the essence of Jesus, who stated, “I and the Father are one.”  In effect, a Sufi, by denying that Christ is God, will never be able to experience God’s closeness or presence.  The love they experience, though sublime, is not the deep love of God.  This is a major problem with Sufism that Sufis apparently do not see.]

Some of the gross effects of the dominance of the nafs are that one may become overwhelmed by the need to gratify desires such as anger, lust, and the many addictions that afflict us. Other gross effects are that one may become dominated by states of consciousness such as anxiety, boredom, regret, depression, and self-pity-- so that one feels like a powerless victim or prisoner tortured within one's own mind.

Given that the Sufi regards every thought, feeling, and perception that he or she has (including his or her sense of self) as a manifestation of God or as a particular view of God's face ("Wherever you turn there is God's face"--Qur'an), a more subtle effect of the dominance of the nafs than those expressed earlier (but still a devastating effect) the Sufi believes is to imagine that God is absent from one's experience or to imagine that one does not have the choice to embrace the way in which God appears at this moment. Such mistaken imaginings often cause one to cease to surrender gratefully and lovingly into God's embrace. In fact, being overcome by these subtle effects opens the door for the gross effects mentioned earlier.

Hence, one of the emphases of Sufism is upon the struggle to overcome the dominance that one's nafs has over one, a struggle that first and foremost involves choosing at each moment to remember and surrender actively to their conception of God--irrespective of whether the form in which God becomes manifest is one of absence or presence, benevolence or severity. As Rumi said, “I am a lover of both his benevolence and severity!  Amazing it is that I'm in love with these opposites!”  [An individual must surrender his/her conception of self.  This surrender is to God.  The Sufi does not do this.  Works will never free one from the self, from nafs.  In some cases, such activity works to increase the conception of self. This is another flaw in Sufism.]

The Qur'an instructs Muslims to remember God, whose reality encompasses and pervades both the unmanifest and manifest worlds (al-ghayb wa-al-shahadah). Sufis have developed this into the quintessential Sufi practice of silent and vocal dhikr (remembrance). An inherent problem in dhikr, however, is the difficulty in remembering God when one has little or no awareness of God. To start with, Muslims begin with a name of God, such as "Allah," which is often called the "comprehensive" name (al-ism al-jami'). It is comprehensive in the sense that it comprises all of the infinite names of God (except Jesus, the most important), which refer to the source of the awareness of all of reality. In down to earth terms, the ultimate source of one's awareness of the words on this page, for example, is the reality of one of the names of God, all of which are encompassed by the name Allah. In short, according to Islam and the Sufi, the source of one's present awareness--whatever that awareness may be--is encompassed by the name Allah. Thus, remembering God can begin quite simply and ordinarily with the awareness of two things: one's present awareness and the name Allah--even when one has no awareness of the reality to which the name Allah refers. (A logical question is, “If one has no awareness of what Allah means, the reality of Allah, then how can one be aware of the reality behind the meaning of the word?  Anyone can repeat any word, let’s say benikneuteranibus, but without the awareness of what the word means, that person is, in actuality, aware of nothing.  Do you, the reader, glean awareness from knowing the above word, benikneuteranibus?  The word has no meaning…it’s a made-up word with no meaning. It is extremely difficult to remember God if there is no basis for the remembrance.  A person needs to know something about God to be able to remember Him.  A name for God does not do this.  I have pointed out another flaw in Sufism.)

The Sufi follows the path toward God primarily by means of love. For the Sufi who is enraptured with the love of God (who is the source of all existence, or, as some might say, who is all of existence), all of existence is extraordinarily beautiful. In contrast, one who is not in love with God to this degree will not see what is so awesome about existence.  While some Sufis such as Rumi become utterly consumed by love's fire, for most who wish to love God, their love is merely a wavering flame, ever in danger of diminishing. Hence, by remembering God's forgotten reality and beauty, Sufis are said to rekindle the flame of their love for God. In Sufism, it is remembrance that makes the heart grow fonder. In a nutshell, this is the relationship between dhikr (remembrance of God) and love.

This paper will attempt to show that Sufism, though beautiful in many aspects—it’s poetry is sublime—cannot reach what it purports its goal to be.  Union with God, while denying that Jesus came in the flesh as God, is unattainable.

Now, let us turn to a more elaborate review of Sufism.

Islam at the beginning was primarily a legalistic religion and placed before its adherents little more than a code of ethics combined with a set of rituals. The faithful observance of these was deemed sufficient to satisfy every man's religious quest and ensure him a place in heaven. There was no demand for spiritual regeneration through a rebirth experience and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as in the Christian faith, nor for a highly spiritual form of devotion through which the worshipper could draw near to God in a personal way and discover the knowledge of his grace and favor.

During the Ummayad period, after Islam had made direct contact with Eastern Christianity and other oriental religions, a deeply mystical movement arose within its realm, in many ways, perhaps, indebted to the influence of these faiths for its motivation and principles, but nonetheless an independent theosophy (so the Sufi would have us believe.  (Remember, however, that the Sufi has gleaned most of its philosophy from Neo-Platonism, Plotinus, Gnosticism) developing purely within the framework of the Islamic society and heritage. The movement is known as Sufism (tasawwuf) and its followers are known as Sufis (pronounced "Soofies"). The word Sufi almost certainly comes from the Arabic suf, meaning "wool", and implies that the Sufi is a wearer of a woolen garment. In pre-Islamic times ascetics often dressed in wool as a symbol of their particular course of life and the early Muslims who practiced austerity were duly nicknamed "Sufis". Later on the name was adopted by those who sought to obtain knowledge of God through various stages of spiritual self-denial as asceticism in Islam gave way to mysticism.

Sufism is principally a quest for a living knowledge of the Supreme Being. To the orthodox Muslim, Allah is the Lord of the Worlds, unique in his essence and attributes, ruling over the entire universe and quite unlike anything in his creation. To the Sufi, on the other hand, "God is the One Real Being which underlies all phenomena" (Nicholson, The Mystics of Islam, p.80). He is everything and there is nothing but Him. Man's purpose is to lose his natural sense of a separate identity from his Creator and to be absorbed instead into his knowledge until there remains no distinction of consciousness between him and God. Through a series of stages (maqamat) and subjective experiences (ahwal) this process of absorption develops until complete annihilation (fana) takes place and the worshipper becomes al-insanul-kamil, the "perfect man".

The Sufi concept of a God who is "all in all" (pantheism) differs from the orthodox conviction that the further he is placed from his creation, the more he is glorified. Historically it is a marvel that Sufism grew out of the bedrock of Islam but its development, so the Sufi believes, will not surprise Christians who believe that man was made in the image of God and that his highest glory is to be conformed to the divine image and be partaker of the divine nature through the indwelling Holy Spirit (However, this does not mean that man may be absorbed in God and lose his identity as the Sufi believes). The mystical quest in Islam was perhaps to be expected for, as it has been put by Sufis, there is a "God-shaped vacuum" in every human heart that no religion based purely on ethics and formal rites can ultimately fill.

To become a Sufi a Muslim must attach himself to a tariqah, one of the Sufi orders, and submit himself to a pir or master. Only when this master adorns the disciple with a khirqah, a robe inducting him into the order, does he become a recognized Sufi, and only then can he embark on a valid pilgrimage through the various stages towards his goal of union with God.

Accordingly, whenever an unknown dervish comes into a convent or wishes to join a company of Sufis, they ask him "Who was the Pir that taught thee?" and "From whose hand didst thou receive the khirqa?" Sufis recognize no relationship but these two, which they regard as all-important. They do not allow anyone to associate with them, unless he can show to their satisfaction that he is lineally connected in both these ways with a fully accredited Pir. (Nicholson, Studies in Islamic Mysticism, p.23).

The covenant by which the disciple is initiated into the particular order he enters is known as a bay'ah and it attaches him to his master and the silsilah (chain) from which the master himself derives his power (barakah) and authority (similar to the "apostolic authority" conferred on Roman Catholic priests through a progressive laying on of hands said to go back to Simon Peter).

The initial Sufi experience is not, as it is for true Christians, a rebirth experience in which the man, once born of the flesh, is now born of the Spirit, has a totally new relationship to God and knowledge of him, and can through his unity with God in the Spirit develop the relationship. Rather the Sufi really seeks only "to become aware of what one has always been from eternity (azal) without one's having realized it until the necessary transformation has come about" (Nasr, Living Sufism, p.7).

The major Sufi orders are the Suhrawardiyya (founded by one as-Suhrawardi), the Qadiriyya (attributed to Sufism's most famous personality, Abdul Qadir al-Jilani), the Chishtiyya (its master Mu'iniddin Chishti who is buried at Ajmer in India), the Shadhiliyya, the Mawlawiyya (a Turkish order founded by Jalaluddin Rumi who is buried in Konya in Turkey), and the Naqshabandiyya (which is prominent in Iran and other parts of Asia).

2. A Brief Analysis of Sufi Stages and Experiences.

The goal of the Sufi is to reach a personal knowledge of his Creator until knower and known are one and there is no awareness of any distinction of personality between them. Like all orthodox Muslims, Sufis reject the concept of incarnation (hulul) and do not believe that God can become man (they therefore reject the teaching of Christ, which is Truth).  They also resist pantheistic tendencies (but do not deny that they exist within Sufism), carefully distinguishing between God and his servants, while nevertheless teaching that man's aim must be to attain to such a high state of consciousness of God that his personality may no longer be distinguished from God's essence and character (this is not a logical construct—cannot have it both ways—not logical).  Man does not have this knowledge by nature, however, and each prospective Sufi must prepare for a course which will take him through many stages and experiences before he completes his journey.

…the Sufis never tire of emphasizing that the end of Sufism is not to possess such and such a virtue or state as such but to reach God beyond all states and virtues (This is foreign to the teaching of Christ.  Christ taught that the Father chooses who will come to Him.). But to reach the Transcendent beyond the virtues, man must first possess the virtues; to reach the station of annihilation and subsistence in God, man must have already passed through the other stages and stations.  (Nasr, Living Sufism, p.58).

The Sufi who sets out to seek God calls himself a 'traveler' (salik), he advances by slow 'stages' (maqamat) along a path (tariqat) to the goal of union with Reality (fana fi'l-Haqq).... The Sufi's 'path' is not finished until he has traversed all the 'stages', making himself perfect in every one of them before advancing to the next (How can an imperfect being make himself perfect without the aid of one who is perfect.  The only sinless one was Christ, whom the Sufi rejects.) and has also experienced whatever 'states' it pleases God to bestow upon him. (Nicholson, The Mystics of Islam, p.28, 29).

The early mysticism of Islam sought only a path of self-purification, a character renewal, until the personality was conformed to the divine image. (It appears in Sufism that man must make himself pure.  In Christ, God makes man able to approach God.  A person can do nothing for himself in this regard.  Therefore, the self is useless in Christianity).  Later it was believed that such growth must be accompanied by deliberate ecstatic experiences, confirming the progress of the soul. The decline of Sufism in later centuries can perhaps be attributed to the interest of the masses purely in the experimental side of Islamic mysticism and the desire for emotional excesses.

The early mystics of Islam, however, devoted themselves primarily to the first of the three stages, that is, Purgation. To the mystics, at-tariq (the Pathway) was a method of self-purification acquired through the cleansing of the senses and through bodily discipline. Gradually the Sufis began to develop the second stage, this is, Illumination. Al-Muhasibi (A.D. 781-857), who pioneered with his disciples in the pathways of Purgation, was one of the first to declare that as purification brings freedom from the attachments of this world the Sufi might expect to arrive at the stage of Illumination and thence proceed to the unitive life in God. (Jurji, "Illumination - A Sufi Doctrine", The Muslim World, Vol.27, p.129).

Pure Sufism, however, sincerely seeks the fullness of the knowledge of God. (This is impossible.  God bestows his knowledge to man through acceptance of His Son and through grace.  The fullness of the knowledge of God comes through Christ.  If the Sufis do not let Christ in, they will never know the fullness of the knowledge of God. The Sufi is confused, blinded by what he believes he can do.  No man can come to know God through his own effort.) Nevertheless it has been universally believed by Sufis and Muslims for centuries that such a search must be accompanied by external manifestations. The goal will be obtained when the worshipper sees God alone in all that he contemplates and at the same time feels a total and ecstatic sense of his presence.

The whole of Sufism rests on the belief that when the individual self is lost, the Universal Self is found, (This is not true.  The individual does not coalesce into the Eternal.  The individual self is never lost.  When Christ arose from the dead, was He not recognized by his disciples?  Did they not recognize His voice and His form?  Did He not have a physical body? Did He not walk on the earth?  Was He then lost to his individuality?  No! ) or, in religious language, that ecstasy affords the only means by which the soul can directly communicate (This is also false.  Did not the disciples communicate with Christ on earth?  It is true that the disciples did not know that they were communicating with God at the time.  Lack of recognition does not mean the inability to communicate.)  and become united with God. (Nicholson, The Mystics of Islam, p.59).  

The Sufi believes (and he is deluded in his belief) that a person can become the Perfect Man, one "who has fully realized his essential oneness with the Divine Being in whose likeness he is made" (Nicholson, Studies in Islamic Mysticism, p.78). On the path towards this goal, therefore, the Sufi believes (which is again misguided belief) one must no only go through the progressive stages of self-annihilation but must also have trance-like experiences in which his normal consciousness is to be lost in ecstatic contemplation of the Divine Being alone. (When Moses spoke with God, was Moses in ecstatic contemplation at the time? No.  Is not this proof that a person need not lose his normal consciousness to speak with God?  It is true that few have met God as did Moses, but it is also true that normal consciousness need not be lost.  What the Sufis believe here is not true.)  These experiences are the ahwal (singular hal) mentioned earlier and authenticate the developing discovery of the ultimate light and truth.

In the Sufism of the orders this ecstasy or trance-like 'state' is called a hal, though in Sufism proper a hal more strictly refers to the succession of illuminations, through experiencing which the Sufi progresses a further 'stage' (maqtam) towards the goal of spiritual perfection. (Trimingham, The Sufi Orders in Islam, p.200).

Such experiences are, to the Sufis, not to be regarded as hypnotic phenomena to which the human spirit is susceptible in appropriate circumstances but rather gifts from God confirming the Sufi's striving for his presence. Each stage reached by the disciple is the result of his own effort (Did not I not indicate that it is in Christ that man is able to come to God?  The Sufis place much emphasis on man’s efforts to reach God…but man can do nothing to attain to the knowledge of God.  Nothing.  Works are dead. Whenever a person attempts to reach God by works he is going to fail utterly.  All depends upon God’s grace, through the acceptance of Jesus Christ.  The Sufis, again I repeat, reject the central core of Christ’s teaching.  Therefore, there is no way that they can gain any knowledge of God.  What they experience comes from their own minds and not the “Mind” of God); each experience is a token of the divine favor upon the endeavor - "the hal is a spiritual mood depending not upon the mystic but upon God" (Arberry, Sufism: An Account of the Mystics of Islam, p.75).

The Sufi believes that a Christian must surely be affected by the whole nature of Sufism. True Christianity, a Sufi believes, is by nature mystical (This statement is false.  How can a Sufi speak concerning true Christianity?  He does not recognize the truth in Christianity but presumes to teach what True Christianity is?  How presumptuous and how utterly false.  True Christianity is essentially logical and historical.  It is based on mysticism.) and anyone born of the Holy Spirit will not only seek to become conformed to the image of his Lord but will also experience many proofs of the Spirit's presence in his soul. Indeed it is a New Testament principle that where such a relationship between man and God truly exists, the formal restraints of legal ethics and rituals have no binding effect as the believer has the motivation towards truth and right-living within him.  [This above statement is believed by Sufis.  However, the statement is false.  Ethics and rituals do restrain.  No Christian is to denigrate the ethics found in the teaching of Christ, nor are the rituals to be thrown into the air as being useless.  These keep all Christians in check.  Christians are not above Christ.  Christ taught that the Law was to be observed and that ethics had a purpose.  They restrain the element of mysticism that could creep into the faith.  You see what the Sufis are attempting to do here?  They are attempting to discredit the Law because in a subtle way they believe that they are above the Law, that it is not needed.  They think that they know God, so they don’t need to view the Law and ethics as anything of much importance.  They will not say this to anyone, but it is evident by the above statement.]

And so for all the actions of life: no outward law regulates the Sufi (They do believe that they can do what they wish…for to them what they do is in actuality what God is doing.  It is true that they do not advocate violence, etc.  But it is also true of Paul that he said that some people, though they do not know the Law have the Law written in their hearts—referring to non-Jews.  The law of God can regulate some people—however; this is not what the Sufi here means.  The Sufi believes in his heart that since He knows God, he does not need the “outward” law, not even as focal point for spiritual guidance.   The outward law does not regulate him.  But from where did the outward law come.  Did it not come from God and not man?  This is also what the Gnostics of passed times believed.)  in regard to them, whether the one way or the other; only the Golden Mean and the General Happiness.   (Gairdner, "The Way of a Mohammedan Mystic", The Muslim World, Vol.2, p.255).

A prominent Sufi in Islamic history, Sari as-Saqati, who lived in Baghdad at the same time as Islam's arch-conservative theologian, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, and was strongly opposed by him, made a profound distinction between the legal formalism of the Muslim masses and the spiritual quest and path of the Sufi elite:

"The way of the multitude is this", said Sari, "that you observe prayer five times daily behind the imam, and that you give alms - if it be in money, half a dinar out of every twenty. The way of the elect is this, that you thrust the world behind you altogether and do not concern yourself with any of its trappings; if you are offered it, you will not accept it. These are the two ways". (Arberry, Muslim Saints and Mystics, p.169).

There is a remarkable similarity here between the old and new covenants, the former legalistic, the latter based on "grace and truth" which came through Jesus Christ (John 1.17).  Islam cannot be regarded as a stepping-stone to Christianity but Sufism definitely is.  Genuine Sufism is Islam's only endeavor to raise itself towards the glory of the Christian revelation. The difference between the two is this - the Sufi seeks in himself to attain to the knowledge of God through a series of spiritual stages and denies the Christ in doing so; the Christian acknowledges that his natural tendency towards sin and separation from God prevent him from ever attaining such a goal, and he submits rather to God's redeeming grace in Jesus Christ, His Son (which the Sufi refutes) and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit within him to enable him to know God fully and become like Him.

3. The Different Stages in the Sufi Quest.

It is not easy to define the various stages of the Sufi path, especially since there is no universal consensus concerning the exact identity of each stage or even of the order in which they are reached. It is generally agreed that the goal is al-Haqiqah, "the True Reality", also known as fana, self-annihilation" or absorption in God. Very prominent in the Sufi stages is ma'rifah, "knowledge" of God, or the gnosis of his essence and presence. In some cases it is set forth as one of the stages towards the goal, in others it is identified with the haqiqah as the object of the quest. These two, together with the initial tariqah, "the path", constitute the three great stages of Sufism. A Sufi must attain to these after graduating from the basic laws of Islam which are set forth, Sufis believe, as a principal code for the unenlightened Muslim masses. The foundations of the shari’ah, the law, and the three ascending Stages of Sufism towards the goal of complete union with God through a loss of self-consciousness are defined as follows:

Nasut is the natural human state in which one lives following the rules of the shari'a;

Malakut is the nature of angels, to reach which one treads the tariqa, the path of purification; whilst

Jabarut is the nature of power, to attain which one follows the way of enlightenment, ma'rifa, until one swoons into Fana, absorption into Deity, the State of Reality (Haqiqa), often called in the order literature `Alam al-Ghaib, 'the (uncreated) world of the mystery'. (Trimingham, The Sufi Orders in Islam, p.160).

Famous Sufis have individually been responsible for identifying and emphasizing different stages making up this threefold gradient. In time these became integrated into the catalogue of stages in the Sufi quest.

One of the initial stages is said to be an attitude of indifference towards good or bad fortune. The Sufi believes that adversity, causing discomfort, depression or discouragement is brought about through God's deliberate "contraction" (qabdh) and that prosperity, joyful circumstances and the like, come from his "expansion" (bast). He humbly resigns himself to both, seeking not to be affected by his circumstances but to fix his devotion purely on his Lord and Master. Qur'anic sanction is found for these contrasting acts of God and the Sufi's willingness to abide in them.

The Sufi has submitted himself to God, who says "God contracts and expands" (Koran II: 245). Thus, whether he gives contraction or expansion, the Sufi only desires what is desired by his Beloved. (Nurbakhsh, Sufism, p.27).

One is reminded of Paul's words in Philippians 4.11-13. Another typical stage is that of "gathering" (jam) in which the Sufi begins to turn away from the state of separation from God (tafriqah - "dispersion"), the distinction being between God himself and the world of everything but God.

There are many different stages, but perhaps some attention should be given to the ultimate stage - fana - for all the intermediate stages are different forms of disassociation from all that is "under the sun", to use a Biblical expression (from Ecclesiastes), in the cause of being absorbed into the consciousness of the Supreme Being.   Alternatively, the Sufi seeks to shake off the identity of his nafs, his individual soul with all its ungodly tendencies, similar to the concept of "the flesh" as it is set forth in opposition to the way of the Spirit in the New Testament, especially the eighth chapter of Paul's Epistle to the Romans.

Fana is the ultimate goal - dissolution of the Sufi's consciousness of his own identity through a total absorption in the knowledge of God. As a technical term in Sufism, the word annihilation signifies the annihilation of the attributes of human nature and their transformation into Divine Attributes. In the state of annihilation, the Sufi is completely immersed in the contemplation of the Attributes of God and oblivious to his own self.   Sufis would like to emphasize that this does not lead to a pantheistic theosophy, but it does.

It is true to say that the Sufi should never be able to proclaim that he has reached this stage for his complete absorption in God and self-annihilation, his fana fit-tawhid, fil Haqq ("Union with the Unity, the Reality"), will surely make him lose all consciousness of his own identity and personal state.

The highest stage of fana is reached when even the consciousness of having attained fana disappears. This is what the Sufis call 'the passing-away of passing-away (fana al-fana). The mystic is now wrapped in contemplation of the divine essence. (Nicholson, The Mystics of Islam, p.60).

Let us briefly look at one of the ways in which Sufis seek to induce a state of ecstasy. Though a means is employed to create this state, they insist that the experience itself is from God, which appears to be false.

4. Dhikr - The Remembrance of Allah.

The commonest means of inducing a state of ecstasy is the dhikr ceremony. A group of Sufis will gather together and begin a series of chants, either of the ninety-nine names of Allah, or just simply of the name of Allah himself, until the devotees collapse in a state of trance. The famous "whirling dervishes" obtain their name and fame from this very ceremony. Today it has become customary for numerous adherents of Sufism, who know nothing of true Sufism or a deep spiritual quest coupled with acts of self-discipline to attain to a higher state of spirituality, to seek purely the supposed state of "ecstasy" that can be obtained through regular concentration on and recitation of the name and attributes of Allah.

After an experience of nearly thirteen years of close contact with Egyptian Moslems, I have no hesitation in saying that, as to the bulk of the population of Egypt, their real religion is Sufism, as represented by the dhikr. They know practically nothing of the philosophic Mysticism of their books, but through tradition they know something of the spiritual achievement of their saints; and in the dhikr they attempt to realize the ultimate experience of the Sufi saint by a physically induced ecstasy, ignoring the fact that these saints only reached their experiences by a long and painful road. (Swan, "The Dhikr", The Muslim World, Vol. 2, p.381).

The Qur'an commends the remembrance of Allah in these words: Wa aqimis-salaah ... wa lathikrullaahi akbar - "and establish prayer ... and the remembrance of Allah, which is greater" (Surah 29.45). Orthodox Muslims take this verse simply to mean that prayer without a consciousness of Allah has a very limited value. Sufis interpret it to mean that the practice of dhikr through repetitions of Allah's name and attributes is greater than the formal acts of the prescribed salaah, the basic Islamic form of worship.

According to some this means the mentioning, or the remembering of God constitutes the quintessence of prayer; according to others it indicates the excellence of invocation as compared with prayer. (Burckhardt, An Introduction to Sufi Doctrine, p.101).

A dhikr ceremony is something to behold, though Christian observers can be excused if they become bored after a while with a monotonous repetition of religious clichés, e.g. la ilaha illullah - "there is no God but Allah", which supposedly brings the devotee into the realm of God and a conscious awareness of his presence simply because they result in a trance-like state. In all religions there are those who seek, through various means, to enter into such trances and these means are all very similar to one another. The end result seems to be a self-induced, hypnotic state rather than a God-ordained experience.

5. How Sufism Relates to the Qur’an and Hadith.

If Sufism is a later development within Islam (with roots in Neo-Platonism), how does it reconcile itself with original Islam, the religion of Muhammad as set forth in the Qur'an and Hadith? The Sufi answer is that this original Islam has the germs of Sufism and that both the Qur'an and Hadith contain numerous passages indicating the deeper nature of true Islam, that which later blossomed into its great mystical movement.   We know, though, that Sufism is not the nature of true Islam.

Expressions such as these in the Qur'an are produced by Sufis as proof that Islam is, at heart, a spiritual religion: "To God belong the East and the West: whithersoever ye turn, there is the Presence of God. For God is All-Pervading, All-Knowing" (Surah 2.115); and "We are nearer to him (man) than his jugular vein" (Surah 50.16). Although Muhammad himself could hardly be described as a mystic, let alone a Sufi, there are verses in the Qur'an that do at least support the Sufi contention, prompting one scholar to say: "however unfavorable to mysticism the Koran as a whole may be, I cannot assent to the view that it supplies no basis for a mystical interpretation of Islam" (Nicholson, The Mystics of Islam, p.22). As the Qur'an is believed to be the uncreated Word of God it is little wonder Sufis seek to authenticate their movement with reference to its teaching and it is not surprising that they make much of these verses. "For these mystical texts are the chief encouragement and justification of the Sufi in his belief that he also may commune with God" (Arberry, Sufism: An Account of the Mystics of Islam, p.17).

Another verse cherished by the Sufis is this one: "To God we belong, and to Him is our return" (Surah 2.156) as it seems to synchronize with their whole philosophy that man's objective and duty on earth is to strive spiritually until he comes back to the knowledge of his Creator. The "return" must therefore be one in which the soul can be re-united with its Maker through a thorough spiritual devotion.

The Sufis claim that the whole of Sufism is summed up in this verse, and it is often chanted at their gatherings and sometimes repeated a certain number of times on a rosary; and in fact, although every believer is necessarily 'for God' in some degree or other, the mystic may be said to be 'for God' in a way which the rest of the community is not. (Lings, What is Sufism?, p.28).

The Hadith contain certain "hadith qudsi" (divine sayings of Allah), allegedly reported from Muhammad himself which contain mystical elements even closer to the heart of Sufism than the verses quoted from the Qur'an. A famous saying of this kind is:

My slave keeps on coming closer to Me through performing Nawafil (praying or doing extra deeds besides what is obligatory) till I love him, so I become his sense of hearing with which he hears, and his sense of sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he grips, and his leg with which he walks; and if he asks Me, I will give him, and if he asks my protection (Refuge), I will protect him. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol.8, p.336).

One writer comments that "the whole of Sufism - its aspirations, its practice, and in a sense also even its doctrine - is summed up in this Holy Tradition, which is quoted by the Sufis perhaps more often than any other text apart from the Qur'an" (Lings, What is Sufism?, p.74). Another similar saying is: I was a hidden treasure and I desired to be known; therefore I created the creation in order that I might be known (quoted in Nicholson, The Mystics of Islam, p.80). These traditions are, for the Sufis, their motivation for earnestly desiring to know God and their belief that he does indeed desire that his servants should thus seek Him. One writer says of the last saying:

This is called the "self-revealing" (tajalla) of Allah and is only really intelligible through the mystical contemplation, which sees all things in God, as it sees God in all things. (MacDonald, The Religious Attitude and Life in Islam, p.170).

There is, of course, the possibility that the hadith quoted are symptomatic of later developments in mystical Islam. Accordingly they may well have been invented. Nevertheless, for the Sufis, they authenticate Islamic mysticism, enabling them to trace it back to statements allegedly reported on the authority of Muhammad himself.

6. Some Famous Sufis in Muslim History.

There are a number of Sufis who stand out in the history of Islamic mysticism, all of whom have made their contribution in one way or another to the development of Sufism. One of the most famous of the early Sufis was Junayd, the head of a large body of disciples, who died in Baghdad in 910 AD. He "was the greatest exponent of the 'sober' school of Sufism and elaborated a theosophical doctrine which determined the whole course of orthodox mysticism in Islam" (Arberry, Muslim Saints and Mystics, p.199).

Junayd, being one of the early Sufi masters, was not given to excesses in his mystic devotions and sought chiefly through a process of self-denial to discover the way to God. The following saying, which seems to be far more Christian than Muslim in origin and emphasis, is attributed to him: "Sufism is that God makes thee die to thyself and become resurrected in Him" (quoted in Nasr, Living Sufism, p.57). It was this very principle of dying to self that later became the foundation of the Sufi concept of fana, being lost in the consciousness of God, and Junayd was one of the first to use this expression.

At the other extreme we find the famous Persian Sufi master Bayazid al-Bistami, "first of the 'intoxicated' Sufis who, transported upon the wings of mystical fervor, found God within his own soul and scandalized the orthodox by ejaculating, 'Glory to Me! How great is My Majesty'" (Arberry, Sufism: An Account of the Mystics of Islam, p.54). Sobriety was not at the heart of this man's mystic experiences. He not only established the concept of being so united to God that the identities of the Creator and creature become one but also gave the ecstatic character of this experience its impetus. As was to be expected, he was highly unpopular with the orthodox Muslims of his day. He is credited with many bold and daring statements, of which the one quoted above is an example. Here is another:

For instance, one day Bayazid was in his cell.
Someone came and said, "Is Bayazid in the house?"
He answered, "Is there anyone in the house but God?
(Nurbakhsh, Sufism, p.53).

He also greatly emphasized the ultimate state of fana but gave it a far more experimental character. He is accordingly regarded as the founder of the "drunken" school of Sufism, a description implying that a true falling away of the separate consciousness of the believer in his Lord would be manifested through a state of spiritual intoxication. From the Bayazid example grew the interest in Sufism in outward manifestations of the inward experience.

Some Muslims say that a true Muslim on pilgrimage will see the Casaba the first time, the Casaba and the Lord of the House the second and only his Lord on the third. Bayazid went further:

"The first time I entered the Holy House," stated Abu Yazid, "I saw the Holy House. The second time I entered it, I saw the Lord of the House. The third time I saw neither the House nor the Lord of the House" (Arberry, Muslim Saints and Mystics, p.121).

This experience illustrates the whole meaning of the fana state - a lost consciousness even of God himself as the Sufi pilgrim becomes one with God. Another symbolizing this same concept is:

One day someone came to Bayazid's door and knocked. The shaykh said, "Who are you seeking?" The man replied "Bayazid". Bayazid then answered, "Poor Bayazid! I have been seeking him for thirty years but have found no sign or trace of him". (Nurbakhsh, Sufism, p.97).

Another famous mystic from the golden age of Sufism was Abu Sa'id ibn Abul-Khayr, a prominent member of the group of early masters who emphasized the doctrine of losing one's human consciousness and subsisting in the knowledge of God alone. These men all believed that by renouncing earthly pleasures, by mystical hours of devotion, and by seeking out the higher virtues of the soul, one could walk the road towards this goal. Self-love had to be replaced by a disinterested love for God alone.

Abu Sa'id followed in the footsteps of Bayazid, making many bold statements calculated to antagonize the orthodox. On one occasion he told one of the fuqaha, the Muslim jurists, that he could read his thoughts (many anecdotes have been recorded of his alleged power to discern the thoughts of men). The jurist had thought to himself that he could not find Abu Sa'id's teaching in the seven-sevenths of the Qur'an (that is, the whole Qur an). Abu Sa'id replied that his doctrine was contained in the "eighth-seventh" of the book, meaning a special revelation given by God to his favorite servants. This concept of an independent revelation given to a Muslim after the revelation of the Qur'an is diametrically opposed to the Muslim doctrine of the finality of prophet hood.

Here Abu Sa'id sets aside the partial, finite, and temporal revelation on which Islam is built, and appeals to the universal infinite and everlasting revelation which the Sufis find in their hearts. As a rule, even the boldest Mohammedan mystics shrink from uttering such a challenge. (Nicholson, Studies in Islamic Mysticism, p.60).

Among the great mystics of Islam was a woman, Rabi'a al-Adawiyya, who lived in Basra (in Iraq) in the very early days of Sufism. Her chief contribution to the growing mysticism of Islam was her insistence that God should be loved, not out of fear of wrath or for the prospect of reward, but purely for himself. One of her sayings was: "O God! If I worship Thee in fear of Hell, burn me in Hell; and if I worship Thee in hope of Paradise, exclude me from Paradise; but if I worship Thee for Thine own sake, withhold not Thine Everlasting Beauty!" (Arberry, Sufism: An Account of the Mystics of Islam, p.42). She was once seen carrying a burning torch in one hand and a bucket of water in the other. When asked why, she replied: "I am going to set fire to Paradise and quench the fires of Hell so that men may worship God for his own glory alone".

Of Rabi'a her biographer wrote that she was "on fire with love to God", and she was one of the first among the Sufis to teach the doctrine of disinterested love to God. She was asked if she hated Satan, and answered "No", and when asked if she loved the Prophet, she said, "My love to God has so possessed me that no place remains for hating aught, or loving any save Him". (Smith, "Rabi'a, The Woman Saint', The Muslim World, Vol.20, p.341).

The most tragic figure in Sufi history is al-Hallaj, one of the "intoxicated" mystics who was also inclined to complete indiscretion in making bold statements which outraged the orthodox. He openly claimed ana'l Haqq - "I am the Truth", and for refusing to recant was brutally dismembered and crucified. (It is striking to find that he suffered the same fate as Jesus Christ who made exactly the same claim, although more worthily in that Jesus did show proofs relating to His deity before His death on the Cross.)

Later Sufi mystics considered him a true martyr even though many at the time disowned him. They charged him with teaching hulul, i.e. incarnation, in that he suggested that God himself joined in union with man (the hypostatic union of Christ?) in all his essence rather than that man attained to a state of identifying with God in his attributes and personality. The later Sufis, however, endeavored to interpret al-Hallaj's doctrine as distinct from the concept of hulul and "they have also done their best to clear Hallaj from the suspicion of having taught it (Nicholson, The Mystics of Islam, p.151).

The general line taken was that he was right in his teaching, but that he ought not to have published abroad the secrets of Sufism, a proceeding for which he deserved to be put to death. It must be remembered that later Sufis left out many of the distinctive features of Hallaj's doctrine. They discarded the term Hulul, and they replaced his view of the union of the human soul with God by a doctrine of monism, in which all created things including the souls of men, are merely mirrors reflecting one or other of the attributes of God. (Thompson. "Al-Hallaj, Saint and Martyr", The Muslim World, Vol.19, p.401).

Although Abdul Qadir al-Jilani is held to be the founder of the Qadariyya, the greatest school in Sufism, the extent of his devotion to Sufism cannot be ascertained fully. He was a dedicated follower of the legalistic school of Ibn Hanbal and many myths surround his life. Nevertheless he is universally regarded to this day as the greatest of the early Sufi masters.

After the heyday of Sufism in the early centuries of Islam the movement began to lose credibility and it took the great Islamic scholar Abu Hamid al-Ghazzali to give it a more sober image and respectability among the general public. Al-Ghazzali was a renowned orthodox theologian and, after a period of cynical agnosticism and depression, he declared himself a champion of Sufism, claiming to have found peace and purpose at last through a personal experience of refuge in God alone. His mysticism was chiefly of a less emotional kind than his predecessors, concentrating on intellectual insight and understanding, and it is therefore not surprising that "he is not regarded as being a practicing Sufi by the ecstatics and gnostics" (Trimingham, The Sufi Orders in Islam, p.52). Yet it was he who reconciled Sufism with orthodox Islam and a fine example of the way he did this is found in his definition of the four stages of the knowledge of tawhid, the "unity" of God, in his greatest work:

The first stage is like the outer cover of a cocoanut, the second stage is the inner cover of a cocoanut, the third is the kernel of a cocoanut, and the fourth stage the oil of the kernel. The first stage of Tawhid is to utter by tongue "There is no deity but God". The second stage is to confirm it by heart. The third stage is like a kernel which can be seen by inner light or by way of Kashf. The fourth stage is like oil in kernel. He sees nothing but God. (Imam Gazzali's Ihya Ulum-id-Din, Vol.4, p.238).

Here the orthodox dogma is almost imperceptibly fused with the whole foundation of Sufism. Al-Ghazzali's chief contribution to Sufism was to remove its stigma in the eyes of the orthodox by tempering its character and bringing it more into line with fundamental Islam.

Not only did he save Sufism from extinction by softening its dramatic character but at least one writer considers that he also delivered orthodox Islam from the dead-weight of formalism: "Had not mysticism in the course of time acquired a place in official Islam, chiefly through the influence of al-Ghazali, the Muslim religion would have become a lifeless form" (Wensinck, The Muslim Creed, p.58).

Sufism is a remarkable phenomenon in Islam and Christian readers must, after reading this introduction, have recognized how similar it is to Christianity in so many of its facets and objectives. Although Sufism is similar in some respects to Christianity it must be also be remembered that in Christianity there is no esoteric and exoteric teaching as in Sufism.  Jesus told His disciples that what the Father taught Him, He in turn taught His disciples.  In effect, he held nothing back, and holds nothing back as long as an individual asks.  “Ask and you shall receive; knock and the door will be opened to you,” are words that came from Jesus’ lips.  The Holy Spirit enables anyone to understand the teaching of God.  All who accept Christ and wish to know the truth will be taught by the Holy Spirit.  In Sufism, however, this principle is not readily accepted. 

Having written the above one must admit than in many ways Sufi spiritual character is far more consistent with Christianity than orthodox Islam. The Christian witness to Islam has here its greatest potential for making its message heard and understood.


Below is an article written by a prominent Sufi which explains, in essence, that some men and woman can never know God.  It is difficult for Christians to accept the gist of this statement. 

The following article written by Shah Nazar Seyed Dr. Ali Kianfar is taken from the journal Sufism: An Inquiry.

Does everyone have the essential capacity to accept and receive the teachings and the principles taught by Sufis?  More precisely, can everyone make the principal focus of their life the cultivation of discipline, learning, and advanced morality? (Christians believe so.)  Truthful Sufis have a consensus on this important, though little-discussed issue. The answer is clear in nature: not every human being is capable of receiving, accepting, and understanding spiritual teachings. (Christians do not accept this.)

Sufis believe that everything is in the hand of Allah. This might seem to imply that anything and everything is possible (Jesus taught that anything is possible for God.)-but in truth this fact point highlights the same conclusion. Allah has established the harmony of Being, a world governed by laws, including spiritual laws. One of the most basic of these is that there must be a harmony between the sender and the receiver, both in the world of nature, and in the world of the spirit-the two are, for Sufis, one realm of being. In the spiritual domain, such harmony consists in understanding, and that depends upon the inherent capability of the receiver.

The heart of the human being is the locus of receiving spiritual truth, and the truth that the individual is capable of receiving depends upon the qualities of heart. Just as not every individual may be a mathematician, a poet, or an inventor, so also not everyone may receive spiritual teachings, for many lack the necessary basis of understanding. (This statement is not true.  Christ taught otherwise.) To admit this is merely to accept the nature of being, to acknowledge the evidence of many years of teaching and the long history of Sufism.

Some people may argue against this statement by claiming that everyone is equal, and all can receive spiritual knowledge. But this is not really argument, only empty sloganeering. Indeed, to think in this way is itself a sign of a lack of essential inward understanding, or a poverty of heart. (This is not true. Anyone who accepts Jesus can receive the Holy Spirit, who does the teaching.  Please do not fall for what this Sufi is saying.)  Those who would make everyone equal deny the uniqueness of heart, the reality of humanity, and reduce the human being to the uniformity of a thing. Such people do not practice reason, but instead express their own anger at Being. (…Again, this Sufi is subtly making false statements.  All are enabled by God to know Him.  All they need do is ask.  Beware; he is discussing approaching God and being taught.  We are not discussing the physical body here, or one’s temperament.  We are examining the ability of a man/woman to understand spiritual teaching.  God is not exclusionistic in this regard.  Anyone who comes to Christ, to God, was drawn by the Father and will be accepted and taught by the Holy Spirit.)  They question God for His supposed lack of compassion-as if to make everyone the same were to show Divine compassion. In so doing, they merely expose their own lack of understanding: the God that is accused in such a court and by such people is indeed unknown to them.

There is a story told by a Sufi that may be mentioned here:

A group of bandits once infested the mountains, waiting for passing caravans to rob. A king who lived in a nearby city gathered the best of his soldiers and sent them to the mountains to find the robbers. The soldiers found their hiding places, and waited for the bandits to fall asleep. With nightfall, the robbers fell asleep one by one. In the middle of the night the soldiers attacked, captured them, and brought them back to court. The king ordered all to be executed. There was a very young man among these thieves, and the king's minister, taking pity on this youth, asked the king to spare him. Perhaps such a young man could be exposed to a good environment, brought up in a good family, and given teachers to help him to grow to be a better man. The king warned his minister that the boy was a thief, that such was his identity, despite his youth. But the minister begged to be allowed to try. So the king set the boy free and gave the minister the responsibility of educating the boy. Time passed, and in a few years, the boy began associating with unfit friends, stealing, and eventually killing none other than the son of the minister, running away from the city and joining another group of bandits.

The Sufi storyteller ends with this warning:

Rain is delicate and pure. It pours gracefully upon both field and desert, the field grows flowers, and the desert-thorns.  (Do not forget that the thorns can be plucked out of the desert.  Jesus plucks the thorns out of the desert of the mind and with the help of the Holy Spirit, plants flowers.)

My comments…

Sufis enjoy telling stories.  Did you remark in the above story that what the Sufi is teaching is that one man is not capable of changing his behavior with Divine help. Remember, this Sufi is discussing spiritual truth.  The story is attempting to show that people cannot change.   “Once a thief always a thief,” is the gist of this story.  Christians know this to be wrong.  The acceptance of Christ in one’s life has changed the lives and behaviors of many spiritually errant men and women.  You see here that the Sufi is rejecting relevant facts to further what he believes to be true about man.  This Sufi does not know Christ, has not had the experience of Christ, is not aware of the power of the Holy Spirit, and, regrettably, as it appears, could care less.  No man can teach spiritual truth without accepting the truth of Jesus.  The attitudes of men do change under the influence of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.   This Sufis’ belief that only the few can know divine truth shows that he still is planted in what the Sufis themselves call “nafs”. 

Let us get one thing perfectly clear in reading Sufi literature.  Sufis, for the most part, are still Muslims.  As a whole they do not accept the teachings of Christ.  They do not accept His return.  They do not accept the resurrection body.  They do not understand the Trinity, and what it means.  They speak of love but deny the source of that love, which is Jesus, who is God.  They do not have a conceptualization of the sublime power of the Holy Spirit to change the lives of men and women.  Al Hallaj, a Sufi in which I referred to in the introduction, because he professed his profound love for Christ, was crucified by the religious authorities of his day.  Al Hallaj identified himself with Christ.  He said that he and Christ were one. (Jesus, in John 17 prays to the Father that we all become one in Him as He is one in Father).  He recognized that Jesus was in Him and He was in God and God in him.  And, like Jesus, was crucified for the utterance of affirming that Truth.   Sure that was many years ago; however, Sufis still cling to Islam, and Islam denies that Jesus is the Son of God.

In this paper, please remember what I have written above.  Sufi teaching is very appealing to the Christian because it mirrors much of what Christ taught.  This is the most important point to remember:  Sufi teaching denies the centrality of who Jesus is—Love incarnate, the Son of God, and God.

I will go over once again the fundamentals of Sufism with my comments.  After this, I will quote heavily from what Sufi masters teach and rebut those teachings with the wisdom and Truth of Christ.  At the end of this paper, the reader may (I formerly placed high stock in this Sufi hocus pocus) come to the conclusion that the Sufi way is not The Way to Truth.  One cannot deny what Jesus taught about Himself and ever hope to approach Truth in all its Light. 

From a former Buddhist, Bahai, and Sufi, now in Christ…Let us begin--

The fundamental tenets of Sufism are very similar to the basic beliefs of all Moslems.  The Sufi creed can be written:

I believe in God, And in God’s angels, And in the Holy Books, And in God’s Messengers, And in the Day of Resurrection, And in destiny, That all good and bad come from God, And that there is life after this life.

Let’s review this creed.  Sufis claim to believe in the Holy Books.  However, they gloss over what Jesus taught about Himself in the New Testament.  Sufis do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that He made claims to Deity.  Let it be known that this is exactly what Jesus claimed.  Sufis claim to believe in the Holy Books.  Do they accept The New Testament?  No, they do not accept the writings of Paul, nor St. Peter, nor St. John, nor St. Matthew, nor St. Mark.  They do not accept what Jesus taught about Himself. 

Do Sufis actually accept what is taught in the Holy Books?  Sufis state that we have to believe in all of the prophets, but they in effect determine who is a prophet.  Jesus did not claim to be a prophet—His claim was to Deity.  Mohammed claimed to be a prophet and the last of the prophets.  According to Islam, there are no prophets coming after Mohammed.  Sufis do not agree with this…they say that Minor Prophets have come after Mohammed and can arise at any time.  Sufis teach what is not in the Koran.  They teach what is not in the Bible, especially the New Testament.  So, do Sufis actually accept what is taught in the Holy Books?  No.

Sufis claim to believe in God.  What they do not say is that they believe in what they believe God to be.  If Sufis truly believed in God, would they then not accept Jesus with open arms, for He claimed deity to Himself?  To accept Jesus means, and this is fundamental, to accept what He taught about Himself and about God.  This the Sufis do not do.  How do I know this?  I was for some time a student of Sufism, as well Bahai and Buddhist (I wanted to know the truth and sought it wherever someone claimed to have the answers.  Yes, at one time I left Christ to seek truth not knowing at that time that in Christ resides the Truth.  I thought I could find God, not knowing that God all the while was attempting to find me.  This is my humble confession.)  I believed in the casuistry and subtle sophistry of the Sufis.  I became adept at playing their games--and most of what the Sufis teach is nothing more than amusing stories that titillate individual’s minds—the stories are quaint, even risible, but have no sound basis in Truth.)  Am I harsh in what I say?  The Truth can be a two-edged sword, can it not?

Sufis claim to believe in God’s Messengers.  What they do not say openly is that they falsify the claims of one Jesus of Nazareth.  They claim that Jesus is only a prophet, yet fail to make mention that Jesus claimed that there was more than a prophet in his appearance.  The Sufis gloss over what Jesus taught about Himself and only cite as truth what bolsters their claim that the Koran is the final Holy Book come to earth through the mouth of Mohammed, and still teach what Mohammed did not say.  To arrive at Truth-- the Truth--one cannot pick and choose.  There is Truth, which by the way Jesus claimed to be, and there is falsehood.  No one can come to the Father unless one accepts all of what Jesus taught.  One must pass through Jesus to reach the Father.  Without that acceptance one reaches the epitome of his/her own imaginings. 

Sufis claim to believe in the Resurrection.  Do not be confused here.  Jesus said that He is the Resurrection and the Life.  Sufis do not believe this.  When they refer to the term Resurrection, they point to the last day when all will arise to be judged according to deeds, whether good or evil.  Sufis do not believe that Jesus is God, that he arose from the dead, or that he was able to bring back to physical life the boy from Nain, Jairus’ daughter, or Lazarus.  Sufis use subterfuge and nuances of meaning to attract unsuspecting people and they fill these people’s minds with half-truths.

Stop and think a minute.  Can both good and evil come from God?  Does not good come from God and evil come from man?  Can God sin?  Does not evil originate from sin?  How then can good and evil come from the same source?  If Sufis accepted the teachings of the Bible and the teachings of Christ they would know that evil cannot come from God.  God is love.  There is no evil in Love.  To say that both good and evil come from God is to say that evil comes from Love.  Good comes from Love, but evil does not.  Do not fall prey to Sufi casuistry and false teaching.

Sufis believe that there is life after this life; however, they also believe that this life is as a dream and true life begins in the next world.  This is blatantly a falsehood.  This life is not a dream.  It has importance.  What we do in this life determines what our future life will be.  This life is a training ground for the next life, not a dream without any significant meaning.  A dream does exist only in the mind.  But this life exists even outside of the mind.  Again, please be cognizant of the Sufi ploy.  They do not understand the Truth in its essence and cannot because they reject the embodiment of Truth in the life and teaching of Christ.  They will say that they do not reject Jesus; however, to not accept Jesus’ words is to reject His life.

The fundamentals of Sufism reside in Islam.  A person cannot be Sufi if he or she does not accept Mohammed as a prophet come from God.  Sufism is Islamic mysticism.  I can say without hesitancy that a Christian could never ever become a Sufi and I can also add that such a person would not wish to become a Sufi.  Jesus is God and Love.  Why think about a movement the teaching of which rejects what Christ taught?  This is stupidity, is it not?  There is absolutely nothing in Sufism that Christ did not teach, and there is so much more in Christ that the Sufis do not even consider. 

Sufis state that there are four stages, or levels, to coming to know God, to understand Truth.  The first stage is shari’a; the second, tariqah; the third, haqiqah; and the fourth, ma’rifa or Gnosis.

The first stage is shari’a, Islamic law.  The Sufis say that trying to follow what they teach, which is supposed to be the Truth, without following Islamic law is like trying to build a house on a foundation of sand.  Is this true?  No, it is not true.  Jesus, who Sufis and Moslems do claim was the first Moslem, never advocated any legal code different from that prescribed by Moses.  Jesus taught that not one Iota of the Law would be repealed, but that He came to fulfill the Law of God.  (Don't misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the Law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to fulfill them. I assure you, until heaven and earth disappear, even the smallest detail of God's law will remain until its purpose is achieved. So if you break the smallest commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God's laws and teaches them will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven. But I warn you--unless you obey God better than the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees do, you can't enter the Kingdom of Heaven at all! -Matthew 5:17-20 NLT )

Think about this.  Jesus taught that fulfillment of the Law would come through Him.  Does this not shatter Islamic law?  God’s law would not come through even a prophet that might come after Jesus.  Jesus came to fulfill the Law.  Is there a need for more law after the law has been fulfilled?  Remember, Moslems and Sufis reject what Jesus taught about Himself.  Think about this.  Sufis and Moslems base their Holy Law on what is supposedly the truth.  Anyone who has even a modicum of knowledge of the Bible is aware that Jesus said that He is the way, truth and life.  The Truth.  But the shari’a states that it is absolutely forbidden to call oneself the truth.  Sufis are aware of what Jesus said about Himself.  So are the Imams of Islam.  They may not believe it, but they are cognizant of it.  Jesus did not abrogate any of the Law but He did fulfill the Law of God.  In other words, Jesus completed the Law. What is this shari’a of the Sufis and Moslems then?  Another Law of God after the Law of God had already been completed?  Why would this law be necessary?  Would a law of God deny Jesus’ claims about Himself?  Is it a law coming from man and not God?  Those who have minds, think! 

The second stage of Sufism is tariqah, which refers to the inner practices of Sufism, those practices to train the mind.  A Sufi needs a teacher to help him on his way to Truth.  We all need someone to show us the way.  But you know, Sufis have many so-called masters who practice different ways to arrive at what they believe is the end of their journey—the Truth.  And you know, not one of these Sufi masters believe what Christ said about Himself, that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Not one.  How do I know this?  Think about it.  If these Sufi masters accepted Christ they would have to follow Him and give up what they teach.  These Sufi masters, though they may say that they have experienced fana al fana, have not so experienced this. (Fana al fana means essentially to have no self—complete selflessness.  It is said that a few Sufi masters possess this quality, which is highly suspect.  How can one teach if there is no self to be taught and no self that does the teaching?)  Is this not something to ponder in your mind?

Why go to a Sufi master?  Did not Jesus teach that the Holy Spirit that is within you (speaking to those who have accepted Him) will teach one what he needs to know at the proper time and the proper place?  Yes, Jesus taught this.  There are few who believe it, but He did teach this.  So, we have Jesus who claimed to be Deity and proved it by the works He performed saying that when He was gone the Holy Spirit would be able to teach.  Does this not imply that the only teacher one would need is Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit?  Does not Jesus make these Sufi masters redundant?  Could this be one reason why these Sufi masters cannot accept Jesus?

I am not saying that one does not need a director to show one the way to go.  We all need this.  However, when the director points to the teacher of Truth, the director is no longer needed.  When a person comes to Jesus Christ through the direction of a minister, life’s struggles, or other person who is a Christian, and comes to know Jesus, sees life barren without Him and is willing to trust Him, is baptized as an outward show of an inner reality change of thinking, and becomes renewed in life with a broader, deeper purpose (some call this becoming reborn), the Holy Spirit teaches what is needed for that particular person to know.  The Holy Spirit teaches much more thoroughly than can any human teacher.  How do I know this?  Think. 

Did I now just prove that Sufi masters are not needed to arrive at Truth?  One more point.  Remember, Sufi masters reject that Jesus is the way, truth and life.  If a person rejects any part of what Jesus taught, either in His teaching or about Himself, that person, does he/she not reject Jesus in His entirety?  You cannot pick and choose. Sufis do this.  Moslems do this.  Therefore, Sufis reject the Truth that they are trying to direct their students to.  Is this not a sign of folly and ignorance?  Is it not?  (I have yet to see or know or hear of a Sufi who has reportedly come back to life after having died.  Not even Al-Hallaj, a Sufi who admired Jesus, did this.  If a Sufi has resurrected, would it not have been reported by someone, somewhere, at some time?  Yet we have Jesus who did do just that, came back after having died on a cross.  Over 500 people at one time together witnessed Him on earth after His crucifixion. This is not hearsay, it is the truth, and it has been verified.  How do I know this?  Through study and reading…I did not take this at face value…Seek and you shall find….I sought and found.)

The third stage of the Sufi training is Truth, haqiqah.  Sufis claim that by a person’s own effort one will be able to arrive at haqiqah.  There is a methodology to all this.  Now, again this is not the truth, sorry to say.  To arrive at Truth first, as Jesus said, the Father must beckon that person.  In other words, a person has no say in who is chosen, nor can he/she do anything to further his cause to arrive at Truth.  God determines; man surrenders, and the Holy Spirit teaches.  Does not surrender imply no longer doing anything?  There is no method to practice to arrive at Truth.  This is the sham of all mystics.  It is not man’s choice who is allowed to experience the Divine in any manner, shape or form.  It doesn’t work that way.  Sufis are showing that they know nothing of Truth when they attempt to formulate a plan to get to God--totally benighted, this attempt; and vain. 

The fourth stage in the Sufi way, the highest stage, is what is called ma’rifah, or Gnosis.  Gnosis is superior wisdom or knowledge of spiritual truth.  If Truth is one, can truth be divided into stages?  Superior wisdom implies inferior wisdom.  Superior knowledge of truth implies truth that can be inferior.  There is no superior or inferior wisdom or knowledge of truth.  To state this is to state an absurdity.  God is Truth.  Can God be divided into inferior and superior compartments?  Of course not.  Plotinus taught this many years ago.  And you know this from what I have written at the introduction to this paper.  The Sufis, whether they know it or not, are only reiterating what Plotinus taught. 

Can a person have direct knowledge of God…know God completely…be absorbed into God?  No, of course not.  To state that man can be absorbed into God is to make God equal to His creation, that man can be equal to God (being one with God doe not mean being equal to God).   God, in His benevolence, does allow man to view glimpses of His splendor.  Man cannot, however, become equal to God.  Absorption into God is another way of saying becoming one with God.  God and his creation are separate and will always be so.  The attempt to become one with God, to absorb oneself into God, is the highest form of self-deception.  The Sufis claim to practice to aim at the destruction of self.  How can a not-self be absorbed into God.  Is not this Sufi logic faulty?

The four stages of Sufism cannot lead one to the Truth.  Jesus the Christ said that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life and that none can come to the Father save through Him.  Islam and Sufism deny the central core of the teaching of Jesus, that he is Son of Man and Son of God.  The shari’a is not law based on God’s truth.  It cannot be.  The basis of this law denies the claims to deity that Christ declaimed. 

Is Sufism bad?  Even the scraps from the kitchen table will feed those who eat them.  The Sufi teaching with regard to love is good.  One must open one’s heart to the truth, which is love.  However, man must also open the mind to Truth, which the Sufis fail to do.  Sufis claim that their teaching will culminate into absorption into God.  I have explained that this cannot happen, but if it could, the mind and heart would have to accept the gist of that Truth.  The mind and heart must love as one and recognize Truth.  The Sufi mind and heart do not love in unison.  The heart loves, but the mind does not.  Love originates from God.  The personification of God is Jesus, which the Sufi mind cannot accept.  How can one claim to love and fail to recognize love when it is before one’s eyes? 

The Sufis will say what I have written is not true, that they love as deeply as can any Christian who is in Christ.  I beg to differ.  To love another means to know what is love, to accept love, to adore love, to worship love.  To love the source of love is to recognize when that source is perceptible to the human mind and heart.  Sufis are blind to that love.  They see with their hearts but fail to make the distinction with their minds.  They teach half-truths believing that what they teach is the whole truth.  Are Christians then to denigrate Sufis?  Of course not.  A Christian in Christ cannot but Love the Sufi.  Christians in Christ must gently show Sufis the error of their way of thinking. 

Sufis point to Rumi as one of their Sages.  He was a poet.  His poetry is exquisite.  However, in one of his poems he states that, “all I’s and thou’s should become one soul and at last should be submerged in the Beloved.”  This is not true.  We cannot become as one soul as I explained earlier.  Why should we try when we cannot?  We cannot be submerged in the Beloved.  Becoming one with Jesus and with God as Jesus taught does not mean that we become merged into God.  What Jesus taught is this:  He wants man to understand that when the Father and the Son are equally in a person, that person has the same emotive element resident in his soul.  The soul of the man does not merge with Christ or God.  It can be explained as a person in a family.  There is a father and son and brother in a certain family unit.  Then there is a person who is outside that family unit (which can be classed as one family).  This person learns of the particular family unit, comes to understand something about that family unit.  The person soon is invited into that family unit.  If the person accepts the invitation to become one with that family (the invitation coming from the father through the son), that person then can be viewed as being united to that family.  He does not become absorbed into the family, does not lose his identity, but that person does become one with that family.  The family grows in members but remains one in identity.  The Sufis teach absorption into God.  This implies that the identity of the individual is obliterated. This teaching is misleading.  No absorption takes place.



Sayings of Sufis and My Comments

Below you will read sayings of some famous Sufis.  I will include the saying, make reference to the author, and follow with comments.  You will come to know the flaws in these Sufi Master’s words.    Let us begin…..

“The Sufis are folk who have preferred God to everything, so that God Has preferred them to everything.” –Dhu-I-Nun. 

What is wrong with the above statement credited to Dhu-l-Nun?  If the Sufis preferred God to everything, would they not accept Jesus Christ’s teachings in its entirety?  Since they do not prefer Christ to everything, in fact denigrate aspects of His teaching, they cannot prefer God to everything.  Also, God does not prefer the Sufi over the Christian who is in Christ.  This statement is absurd.  Why would God prefer a Sufi who does not recognize Jesus as His Son, who states the Jesus is only a prophet, and who denies Jesus’ bodily resurrection?  Make know mistake, Sufi’s do not recognize that Christ is the Son of God, that he is Immanuel, With-us-God, and that He died on the Cross and was resurrected bodily.  To do this, as I stated several times in this paper, to see Christ as He truly was (and is) would compel the Sufi to cast aside Sufi teaching and teach what Christ taught in its entirety.  Dul-I-Nun’s statement is therefore not true.

“Whatever you have in your mind—forget it; whatever you have in your hand—give it; whatever is to be your fate—face it!” Abu Sa’id ibn Abi-I-Khayr.

What is wrong with the above statement attributed to Abu Sa’id ibn Abi-I-Khayr?  God does not require us to forget what we have in our mind.  That is absurd.  Christ did not teach this.  He taught that we should learn from what we have in our mind, to reflect on our experiences, to grow from them, and to pass on what we have learned to others.  If we forget what we have in our mind, how can we edify anyone?  How can we keep others from making the spiritual mistakes we have made? How can we teach?  How can we learn even from our own mistakes?  This statement to forget whatever we have in our mind is absurd.

Whatever we have in our hand—give it.  What is wrong with this statement?  It sounds “good” on the surface.  Again, however, this is not spiritual teaching.  We are to share what we have in our hand--to give some and yet keep some for ourselves.  We are not to be greedy and we are not to act foolishly.  We do not love by giving everything away.  If we do this, we forget to love ourselves.  We are to share with others of what we have, which includes to share what we have with ourselves.  This Sufi’s statement shows lack of spiritual insight and lack of love--love for oneself.  It is an absurd statement that shows lack of insight into the human condition.

Whatever is to be our fate—face it!  What is wrong with this statement?  Think about it.  Do we know what our fate is to be?  Can any normal person read the future? Does anyone who is human know the mind of God?  No.  We are to learn from the conditions that beset us in life and change them for the better if we can, and if we cannot, go to someone who is able to assist us.   The statement seems to infer that we have to face life head on without help, does it not?  Do we have to accept life’s vicissitudes?  Can we not work around them with the help of others and with the assistance of God?  Can we not corporeally pray to God?  Christ never taught to accept passively what the world throws at us.  We are to be proactive.  Whatever is to be our fate—face it.  This is not correct.  Whatever we experience in life live it with the love of Christ—this is correct.  We do not have to beard life’s challenges alone.  We are never alone in Christ.  The body of Christ is a power few tap.  Those we do this so called fate has not sting.

The statement above by Abu Sa’id ibn Abi-I-Khayr is therefore false.  The statement shows this Sufis lack of understanding of the spiritual power of Christ and the human condition.

“I have heard tell of a seeker who went to ask a sage for guidance on the Sufi way.  The old man said to him: ‘If you have never trodden the path of love, go away and fall in love; then come back and see us.”—Anonymous

What is wrong with the above Sufi maxim?  It appears sound, does it not? One cannot love without knowing love.  The Sufi, though he believes in his heart that he knows love, does not know the pinnacle of love.  God is love.  Jesus is love.  God and Jesus are one.  This is what Jesus taught—I and the Father are one.  You cannot reach the Father except through Me.  The Sufi does not see Jesus in this light.  The Sufi does not accept this teaching.  The Sufi does not know love in its plangency.  And yet the Sufi teaches that he knows love and can lead one to the path of love.  The Sufi is not on the path of Love.  What a Sufi teaches is only a mirroring of love.  Love comes from Jesus, from God.  To know love one must walk the path of Jesus, learn from Him and become more like Him everyday.

The above Sufi statement is therefore false.  Why?  The Sufi is not on the path of love and cannot teach love while walking on a side path.  The Sufi does not accept the Love emanating in Christ.  The Sufi is not in Christ, so he/she cannot experience Love at its source and cannot teach it.  If only the Sufi would “empty their mind of falsehood” they could see the truth and the truth would set him free.  Freedom is frightening to the Sufi.  This is why the acceptance of Christ is hard for them.  They want love, think they have love, but are walking on the path of their own imaginings.

“Now I am called the shepherd of the desert, Now a Christian monk, Now a Zoroastrian. The Beloved is Three, yet One:  just as the three are in reality one.”
--Ibn El-Arabi

What is inherently wrong with the statement above?  Do you have any clue?  The three religions above do not believe the same thing.  There are differences.  When there are differences there can be no oneness.  The Sufi above is using the Christian teaching of the Trinity stealthily by stating that God, the Beloved is Three, yet One and implying that the three religions he mentions are really one religion seen in three aspects.  This is false.  The Christian teaching and the Zoroastrian teaching are not the same.  They are not one.  All people who seek God do so from an inner impulse.  That impulse comes from God.  However, the seeker and the sought are not one and the same as Sufis so readily claim.

In the above statement, who is this “I” that is called “the shepherd of the desert, a Christian monk, a Zoroastrian”?  The Bible and the Koran teaches this, that man is not to identify God’s creation with his creator.  Who then is this Sufi referring to? The Beloved is three but One?  Is the Beloved the three men? That cannot be the case because God is not his creation.  God transcends his creation. The three men in reality are not one. The three religions are not in reality one.  The men and the religions have a common core in that they attempt to address who/what is God.  However, and I repeat, God and His creation are separate as are the religions mentioned in the Sufi statement.

Sufis claim to gnosis, a mystical experience of God.  Christians also have had such mystical experiences.  St. John of the Cross is one such example< Meister Eckhart is another.  Sufis, and again I am hammering the point, do not accept some teachings of Jesus and some of the Truths surrounding His person.  How can one own a mystical experience of God without acknowledgment of the teachings of God’s Son?  If one were to accept mystical experience of God, should not one accept the writings and lives of Christian mystics, people who accept the evidence of the existence of Christ and what He taught, as opposed to those who deny some of the teachings and some aspects of the life of Christ.  {We must never forget that it is not requisite for a person to have a mystical experience to come to Christ and learn from Him.  God shows no favorites.  Besides, one who has in reality experienced God in a mystical sense does not bruit the experience to anyone.  The true mystic is one not known.  That is something for you, the reader to consider when learning about what the Sufis teach.  They do not teach what they say they are teaching.  One who knows does not speak.  One who speaks does not know.}

On Religion --

“All religion, as theologians - and their opponents - understand the word, is something other than what it is assumed to be. Religion is a vehicle. Its expressions, rituals, moral and other teachings are designed to cause certain elevating effects, at a certain time, upon certain communities. Because of the difficulty of maintaining the science of man, religion was instituted as a means of approaching truth. The means always became, for the shallow, the end, and the vehicle became the idol. Only the man of wisdom, not the man of faith or intellect, can cause the vehicle to move again.” - Alauddin Attar

What is wrong with the above short paragraph?  Attar is stating that only the man of wisdom can cause religion to move again?  Only the man of wisdom?  Does this ring true?  No.  It is not true.  Wisdom cannot be separated from faith or intellect.  It takes faith to believe in God.  Socrates, a wise man, also had faith in an intellect greater than his own.  The Sufi here is separating faith, wisdom and intellect.  They are not separable.  Intellect is required to acquire wisdom, and wisdom without faith (it takes faith to reach out to something not able to be seen) is not wisdom at all. Jesus asked his disciples (and in effect is asking us) where is your faith?  He did not ask, “Where is your wisdom”?   To me, faith is more important than wisdom, and a man of Faith in God will move humanity more than a man of wisdom.  An example is Pope Paul, the pope who died recently.  Was it his wisdom that moved men and women?  Was it not rather his faith in Christ shown through the way he conducted himself that moved humanity?  Wisdom does not move man.  Evincing an indomitable faith in God moves man.  This is why Jesus has moved billions over the centuries.   Let us get real.  This Sufi does not know what he thinks he knows.  Wisdom without faith can move nothing.  The statement that only wisdom can move the vehicle of religion is not true.  (Most categorical imperatives such as this are not true.)

The Unity of Knowledge—

“What I have learned as a Sufi is something that man cannot credit because of what he has already been taught. The easiest thing to grasp in Sufism is one of the most difficult for the ordinary thinker. It is this: All religious presentations are varieties of one truth, more or less distorted. This truth manifests itself in various peoples, who become jealous of it, not realizing that its manifestation accords with their needs. It cannot be passed on in the form because of the difference in the minds of different communities. It cannot be reinterpreted, because it must grow afresh. It is presented afresh only by those who can actually experience it in every form, religious and otherwise, of man. This experience is quite different from what people take it to be. The person who simply thinks that this must be true as a matter of logic is not the same as the person who experiences that it is true.” - Khwaja Salahudin of Bokhara

This statement by Khwaja Salahudin of Bokhara is false.  For one thing, logic and religion are not separate.  Truth coincides with logic.  What is not logical cannot be truth.  God is a logical Creator, as this Sufi would know if he had studied the Bible more thoroughly.  What is not logical does not come from Truth.

 Also, can one not experience logic, thinking?  It is true that thinking about God is not experience of God; however, to experience God one must have some type of awareness as to what and or who God is.  This awareness comes from logical thinking processes.  Let not the Sufi fool you.  No man can know God without thinking, without the implementation of the logical process of thought.  This Sufi is using thought to express what he implies cannot be experienced by way of thought.

By this Sufis own admission, religious truth expressed is distorted.  Does this not also imply that the Sufi’s expression of what he avers to be true may also be distorted?  Sure it does.  So what is this Sufi saying?

This Sufi is also saying that the truth manifests itself in various peoples.  Does he mean that various peoples experience one truth, or that various peoples experience truth in various ways?  There is no variety in Truth. 

This Sufi also is stating that truth cannot be reinterpreted, that it most grow afresh?  Why?  Why must Truth, which does not change, grow afresh?  It is true that truth cannot be reinterpreted because Truth does not change.  Since Truth does not change it need not grow afresh.  This Sufi, in my estimation, does not know what he is talking about.  He is rambling without any foundation.

Khwaja has also stated that all religious presentations are varieties of one Truth.  This is false.  There can not be varieties of Truth.  There is truth and there is falsehood.  Jesus stated while on Earth that he was the Way, the Truth (not a truth), and the Life.  He did not make the claim this Sufi above makes, and since this Sufi above has not “proved” that he is in a position to make Truth claims, why take his statements as Truth. 

There are contradictions when one compares a religion with another religion.  Truth does not reside in contradiction.  One religion must be right and the other religions when compared to that one right religion must be wrong.  No other religion other than Christianity has as its prototype a man who claimed to be more than a prophet, a man who claimed that he would rise from the dead and did so.  This man was Jesus the Christ.  The Truth resides in and is of Christ.  There is but one Truth which is the Truth of the teaching of Christ.  Sure, there are other religions that claim their foundation is in Truth.  How can this be, though, when other religions discount what Christ taught and the tasks that He performed while on earth?  The founders of other religions can not claim to have raised anyone from the dead—they do not make such claims.  The founders of other religions did not die and rise again, as did Christ.  God is all-powerful.  God is love. God is Truth.  Jesus said that he was the Truth.  Jesus claimed to be God.  He showed his power through miracles, etc.  The founders of other religions did not have the power of God resident in them as did Christ. 

One more point—This Sufi states that truth can only be presented as fresh by only those who have experienced the Truth in every form, religious and otherwise.  Experienced the Truth in every form?  Truth is one and does not have compartments.  This Sufi is in effect implying that only the Sufi has direct experience of God.  (How does one ever know if another has had direct experience of God, even if it is attainable, which is suspect.  When Moses “met” God his face was afterwards glowingly white.  Does a Sufi evince a glowing white face? No.  Any body can say he/she has direct experience of God, but that does not make it true.)

God cannot be experienced by any method, Sufi or otherwise.  In the Bible it is stated that only Christ is able to designate to whom He desires His Father to be known.  Only Christ.  Since the Sufi is outside the ambit of Christ by his own volition, how can he speak concerning the experience of Truth?  When Christ is denied, so is Truth denied.

Why listen to Khwaja Salahudin of Bokhara?  Does he show through his statements above that He is cognizant of Truth?  The answer is regrettably, No.

On Emptiness--

“Everyone in the ordinary world is asleep.  Their religion - the religion of the familiar world - is emptiness, not religion at all.” - Sanai, Hadiqa

What is wrong with the above statement?  For one thing, the statement is a categorical statement.  Not everyone in the “ordinary” world is asleep.  Christians in Christ are not asleep, although the Sufi here is making the blanket statement that all in the world basically are asleep that adhere to beliefs different than that of Sufis.  The Christian does not claim that all who do not follow Christ are asleep.  They claim, which is what Jesus said, that all who do not follow Him will die in their sins.  This is not emptiness, as the Sufi claims.  Far from it.  If what Jesus stated is taken to heart, a person who is “asleep to the truth of Christ” will wake up and run to Him.  I think that this Sufi is asleep and befuddled by his own thought, which is not God’s thought.

Another thing wrong with the statement declaimed by the above Sufi is that the religion of the “ordinary” world (what does this mean really—the Sufi is in an extraordinary world?) is not emptiness.  Those who believe in the God and study the Bible are not living in emptiness.  Their religion and faith is not empty.  They are living and feeding on the Word of God, which this Sufi must not understand. 

On Worship--

“Mankind passes through three stages.  First he worships anything: man, woman, money, children, earth and stones.  Then, when he has progressed a little further, he worships God.  Finally he does not say: 'I worship God'; nor: 'I do not worship God.'  He has passed from the first two stages into the last.”- Rumi

What is the matter with the above statement by Rumi?  It is true that man worships first what he sees that he thinks will make him better off in this world.  When he learns the emptiness of this, he turns to God and worships Him.  The Bible indicates that we should worship God and God alone.  The final stage enumerated by Rumi is not true.  Is the last stage emptiness?  Has the self been obliterated?  Man can not merge into God.  This is impossible.  Christ never taught that man would merge into God and that the individual man would be no more.  However, this is what Rumi is teaching here.  Rumi is teaching falsehood here.   He is in effect stating that there will come a time in this life when the spiritual man will not know what he is doing.  After all, man will not say that he is worshipping God nor will he say he is not worshipping God.  Does it not logically follow that such a man does not know what he thinks he knows and does not think he knows what he does not know?  Silly isn’t it?  God does not befuddle our mind in such a fashion.  We will always know that God is superior to us at all times and in all ways.  Only He is worthy of worship.  There is not drop merging into the sea as so many Sufis believe in regards to man being the drop and God being the sea.

On Evolution--

“First of all he came into the inert world.  From minerality he developed into the realm of vegetation.  For years he lived thus.  Then he passed into an animal state, yet bereft of any memory of his being vegetable - except for his attraction to Spring and to blossoms.  This was something like the innate desire of an infant for its mother's breast, or like the affinity of disciples for an industrious guide. When the shadow is no more, they know the cause of their attachment to the teacher.

From realm to realm man went, reaching his present reasoning, knowledgeable, robust state; forgetting earlier forms of intelligence.  So too shall he pass beyond the current form of perception. There are a thousand other forms of Mind. . . But he has fallen asleep. He will say: 'I had forgotten my fulfillment, ignorant that sleep and fancy were the cause of my sufferings.' He says: 'My sleeping experiences do not matter.' Come, leave such asses to their meadow. Because of necessity, man acquires organs. So, necessitous one, increase your need.”  Rumi

These statements taken by a whole are false. Totally false.  He is stating that man was first a mineral, and then an animal, then a vegetable, then man evolved to his present state.  First off…Rumi is denying that God created man.  He is denying the creation of Adam. 

And secondly, was the Holy Spirit in the mineral, the animal, then the vegetable, then the man?  It is true that God created Adam from mineral elements and breathed into man His breath.  However, Rumi here is not stating this.  He is stating that man was first a mineral, then an animal or vegetable, and then evolved into man.  I do not believe and it is ludicrous to believe that a mineral contained the seed of man.

The above passage by Rumi cannot be accepted by a rational human being, whether he/she believes in God or not.  It is too far fetched to give any credence to.

On Teaching and Instruction--

Junaid once saw a man strolling by the edge of the River Euphrates.  He asked him why he was strolling there.  “I am waiting for a boat to ferry me across to the other shore,” the man replied.

“Come,” said Junaid, “let me take your across.”  When the fellow asked him how he could do that, he said, “By remembering Allah.” Then he said, “Take care not to say anything except ‘As the Sheikh says’”.

He took the man by the hand, and they started walking on the water together.  The venerable Junaid was saying, “Allah, Allah,” while the fellow beside him kept repeating the words “As the Sheikh says, as the Sheikh says.”

They were halfway across, and the venerable Junaid still went on saying, “O Allah, O Allah, O All-Powerful, O All-Powerful!”  The other man began to wonder shy he should confine himself to saying, “As the Sheikh says.”  He decided to try invoking Allah, too, But as soon as he said, “O Allah, O All-Powerful,” he began sinking into the river.

The venerable Junaid pulled him to safety, then chided him:  “Do you think yourself competent to mention the names of Allah?  Because I knew your mouth was not ready for that, I told you to say nothing but “As the Sheikh says.’”—Sheikh Muzaffer

The above is a quaint story meant to convey that in Sufism a pupil is to do exactly what his mentor, his sheikh, tells him to do with no exceptions.  It can be said that the pupil becomes the slave of the sheik.  What is wrong with this?  One must remember that a Sufi master does not follow the teaching of Christ in its entirety.  A Sufi regards Jesus as a prophet subservient to Mohammed even though at the same time Sufis (and Muslims) aver that Jesus was the first Muslim, one who submitted to God completely.  They will not admit this in public; however, this is what a Sufi teacher believes in his heart--Mohammed is above Jesus.  They do not believe that Jesus died on the Cross and that He came back from the dead.  They claim that Jesus did not die on the Cross.  We know this to be a false claim.  Jesus even said before His death that He would be resurrected.  Since Sufi masters do not accept what Christ taught about Himself, and since they do not accept this truth as taught by Christ, how then can they teach what is true to their pupils concerning things spiritual?  A pupil of a Sufi master is in effect a slave to false teaching. 

The story above does not pass muster.  There is only one person who was ever seen walking on water, and that was Jesus when He was on this earth 2000+ years ago.  The story above is fabricated using the backdrop of two men walking on water.  Subtly they are referring to the Christ’s evinced power while He was visibly with us.  We all know that a sheik cannot walk on water and certainly a pupil of a sheik cannot.    Why do Sufis make use of such stories?  I will indicate to you why this is so.  Sufis attempt to convey in the sophism that they are steeped in that they are close, if not united, to the spiritual realm.  They supposedly know what Christians do not know.  This is falderal.  They do not know what Christians in Christ know, but they attempt to foist what they know onto an uneducated world audience and perpetrate it as the truth. 

Another nuance before I leave this story to go to another.  The sheik in the story chides his pupil because the pupil supposedly should not mention the name of Allah, implying that only a sheik knows God.  This is false.  We as Christians should know that God is not a respecter of persons.   A teacher of the Sufi persuasion is not above his pupil, he only knows more intellectually than his pupil.  The Holy Spirit does the teaching; the teacher only opens the mind to the prospect that God is resident in him/her.  When one accepts Christ, and only then, the Holy Spirit performs His teaching.  Since the Sufi does not accept Christ, is he able to convey anything concerning that which is foundationally spiritually true to his pupil?  Think about this.  I would say and emphatic no.  I would say that what a Sufi teaches lacks concrete spiritual authority.  Do not misunderstand me here.  I am not saying that a Sufi cannot help an individual on his/her spiritual quest.  He may, but he cannot teach what he himself cannot accept…the truth.  Jesus is the way, the Truth and the Life.  The Way, The Truth, The Life.  He said He was this—I am not making this up.  A Sufi, no matter how educated, cannot say that he is the way, the truth, and the life.  Why go to a Sufi master when there is only one Master, who is Jesus, who is the Truth.  Go to Jesus---He will free you from being a slave to false teaching.  Make no mistake; what the Sufis teach is not the Truth.  If it is not the Truth, then it must be a lie, correct?  And if it is a lie, which is it, then how can one expect to arrive at Truth by following the teaching of any Sufi, whether he is a sheik or a pupil of a sheik?  They are blind men trying to teach what they do not know and have not seen.  But how do I know this?  Why believe what I write?  My reader, remember I was a Sufi.  I know what they believe, I know what they teach.  What Sufis teach can be of benefit to man, but it will not bring one any closer to the truth than would adhering to the teaching of psychologist like Dr. Phil.  They do not know the Truth…so a Sufi cannot lead one to The Truth. 

On Teaching—

O ignorant fool.  You fail to take these words to heart and prefer to be in your private cell in the company of your mind and desire and passions.  First of all, you need to seek the company of true sheikhs.  You need to conquer your mind, desires, karmic habits, and everything else besides God Almighty.  You need to become a regular attendant at their doorsteps—I mean the true sheikhs.  Learn at their hands.  Only after that may you move to your hermitage and be alone with God Almighty.  Once you satisfy these conditions, then you may become a cure for people’s illnesses, a guide by God’s leave.  However, your tongue sounds pious, but your heart is rebellious.  Your tongue sings God’s praises, but your heart protests against His decree.  Outwardly you are a Muslim, but inwardly you are a disbeliever.  Outwardly you are a monotheist, but inwardly you are a polytheist.  Outwardly you are an ascetic and religious, but inwardly you are like the mildew on bathroom walls, a lock at the door of a garbage dump.  –Abdul Qadir al-Jilani

Why do we need to seek the company of true sheikhs?  Anyone who teaches as a Sufi steeped in Islamic teaching cannot teach the Truth.  Again, and I am hammering this point, Sufi sheikhs do not accept what Jesus taught about Himself.  If any do, they do not confess it openly.

It is true that we, as people, need to conquer habits, wrong thought patterns, etc.  But we cannot conquer these things.  We give them over to a higher power, Jesus/God and allow Him to assist us.  If one should attempt to conquer the mind, desires, and what this Sufi calls karmic habits, the attempt only strengthens the self.  One cannot conquer anything without surrendering to God, as taught by the life and teaching of Jesus Christ.  So a person does not do the conquering, Jesus does.  We can do nothing spiritually without Christ.  The Sufi here does not know this.

We do not need to go to a sheikh and learn at their doorsteps.  If one goes to Christ, then the Holy Spirit teaches one what is needed for individual spiritual growth.  The statement of this Sufi is false.

We need also rid ourselves of the desire for God at some point on the spiritual journey.  This Sufi does not know this, apparently.  No one knows God, and what we desire of God is the aspirations of our mind.  We desire for what we do not know and what we can never know.  When the desire for God leaves, then the Trueness of God comes to us.  There is awe in this because what we learn is not of what we thought we would learn, what we see is not of what we thought we would see, what we hear is not of which we thought we would hear, and the beauty of it is overwhelming.  The Sufi here does not know this…again he, as being a Sufi, does not accept the profundity of the teaching of Jesus, the Christ.  He cannot know this.  He is, in effect, blind attempting to teach what he does not know.

Another point.  When one knows God, one does not seclude in a hermitage.  The image of God is man.  When one knows God, one realizes that man is God’s image and that one must go to man to be at one with God.  Those who do not know seclude themselves in a hermitage.  If this Sufi knew Christ, which he does not, he would realize that Christ is in everyman.  To Worship God is to come to man and love him with all his heart, soul, and mind.  To Love God one must love his/her fellow man.  This is a tenet of Christianity.  One cannot love God and hide from man in a hermitage.

This Sufi also writes about himself.  However his words sound pious, his heart is in rebellion—rebelling against the truth of Jesus and who He said he was/is.  However, his tongue sings God’s praises, but his heart protests against His decree—that Jesus is the way, truth and life, and that no one can come to the Father without recognizing the Son in all His splendor.  Outwardly he is a Muslim, but inwardly he is a disbeliever—inwardly he disbelieves the truth as Jesus walked on earth some 2000 year ago yet does confess that Jesus was the first Muslim.  Outwardly he is an ascetic and religious, but inwardly he is like the mildew on bathroom walls, a lock at the door of a garbage dump.  Yes, this Sufi is just that.  He appears to be oblivious to the fact that he was referring to himself when he wrote the lines above.  When one denies the Truth as Truth, one begins to rot spiritually. 

Revolution against religious confinement

To those who seek truth in conventionalized religion:  Until conege and minaret have crumbled this holy work of ours will not be done. Until faith becomes rejection and rejection becomes belief there will be no true believer.--Abu Said  

What is wrong with this statement?  Reread it, if you will.  How does one reject God in faith if one is searching for God in earnest?  Is this a logical statement this Sufi proffers as a statement of truth?  One requires faith to believe in God.  When faith becomes rejection it is no longer faith.

When rejection becomes belief?  When has rejection ever become belief.  Belief in what?  When one rejects so-called conventional religion where God is present even if one does not see Him, one is also rejecting God.  Is this Sufi saying that to believe in God one must reject Christianity and Islam?  If so, what does one accept?  God is found in the teachings of Christ, and intimations of God are present in the teachings of the Koran.  Even the Sufi accepts Mohammed as a prophet of God. 

According to this Sufi, a true believer in God cannot accept the teaching of Christianity nor the Koran.  Nothing is gained by the rejection of tradition.  Jesus taught that one must accept the tares along with the wheat for fear that in “rejecting” the tares the good wheat would also be rejected.  There are problems in Christianity (and Islam, assuredly) that need to be addressed.  But, they cannot be addressed if this so-called faith rejects “the baby with the bath water.” 

This Sufi’s wisdom is not wisdom.  It is foolhardy prattling coming from one who does not know truth.  Why does he not know truth?  I think you know.  The Sufi here does not know the Christ in His essence.

Sufi Stories


Sufis convey many of their teaching in stories.  Christ used parables in many instances; Sufis have relied (and do) on stories.  Some of the stories composed by Sufis are humorous which, in one way or another, depict human nature even though in many instances animals do the actual acting out of a situation.  All are meant to edify.  The stories below are a sampling of the many stories that one can read that have been composed by Sufis.  The stories, though from another tradition other than Christianity, do instruct.  I see no harm in them—they do not convey Sufi or Islamic doctrine.  One must remember, however, that these stories do not originate in the purlieu of Christ’s love and therefore cannot fully convey the depth of the wisdom and love of Christ.


The Frogs


A group of frogs were traveling through the woods, and two of them fell into a deep pit. All the other frogs gathered around the pit. When they saw how deep the pit was, they told the unfortunate frogs they would never get out. The two frogs ignored the comments and tried to jump up out of the pit.

The other frogs kept telling them to stop, that they were as good as dead. Finally, one of the frogs took heed to what the other frogs were saying and simply gave up. He fell down and died.

The other frog continued to jump as hard as he could. Once again, the crowd of frogs yelled at him to stop the pain and suffering and just die. He jumped even harder and finally made it out. When he got out, the other frogs asked him, "Why did you continue jumping? Didn't you hear us?"

The frog explained to them that he was deaf. He thought they were encouraging him the entire time.

This story holds two lessons:

1. There is power of life and death in the tongue. An encouraging word to someone who is down can lift them up and help them make it through the day.

2. A destructive word to someone who is down can be what it takes to kill them. Be careful of what you say. Speak life to those who cross your path.

The power of words... it is sometimes hard to understand that an encouraging word can go such a long way. Anyone can speak words that tend to rob another of the spirit to continue in difficult times.

Special is the individual who will take the time to encourage another.

[Traditional Sufi Story]



One day Nasrudin was walking along a deserted road.  Night was falling as he spied a troop of horsemen coming toward him.  His imagination began to work, and he feared that they might rob him, or impress him into the army.  So strong did this fear become that he leaped over a wall and found himself in a graveyard.  The other travelers, innocent of any such motive as had been assumed by Nasrudin, became curious and pursued him.

When they came upon him lying motionless, one said, "Can we help you?  And, why are you here in this position?"

Nasrudin, realizing his mistake said, "It is more complicated than you assume.  You see, I am here because of you; and you, you are here because of me."

[Traditional Sufi Story]

 The Birds Experiment

"Representatives of all the various kinds of birds decided to find out which species was able to fly highest. They formed a council to judge, and experiments were started. One by one they dropped out, until only the Eagle was left. He continued his upward flight higher and higher until, when he was at his maximum, he exclaimed: ‘See, I have reached the highest point, leaving everyone else behind!'

At that moment a tiny Sparrow, which had been riding on his back, leapt off his wing and flew even higher because he had conserved his strength.  

The Council met to decide the winner. 'The Sparrow', they declared, 'gets a prize for being the cleverest, but the recognition for attainment must still go to the Eagle. And in addition, he gets a prize for endurance, for he outdid all the other competitors with the Sparrow on his back!'"

[Traditional Sufi Story]

A Cliff

A man was chased off a cliff by a tiger. He fell, and just managed to hold onto a branch. Six feet above him stood the tiger, snarling. A hundred feet below, a violent sea lashed fierce-looking rocks. To his horror, he noticed that the branch he was clutching was being gnawed at its roots by two rats. Seeing he was doomed, he cried out, "O Lord, save me!"

He heard a Voice reply, "Of course, I will save you. But first, let go of the branch!"

[Traditional Sufi Story, this version from: Perfume of the Desert, Inspirations from Sufi Wisdom, compiled by Andrew Harvey and Eryk Hanut, Quest Books, Theosophical Publishing House, Wheaton, 1999, p. 18]


Four people were given a piece of money.  The first was a Persian. He said: 'I will buy with this some angur.'  The second was an Arab. He said: 'No, because I want inab.'  The third was Turk. He said: 'I do not want inab, I want uzum.'
The fourth was a Greek. He said: 'I want stafil.'  Because they did not know what lay behind the names of things, these four started to fight.

They had information but no knowledge.

One man of wisdom present could have reconciled them all, saying: 'I can fulfill the needs of all of you, with one and the same piece of money. If you honestly give me your trust, your one coin will become as four; and four at odds will become as one united.'

Such a man would know that each in his own language wanted the same thing, grapes.

[- taken from the Sufi Jalal-Uddin Rumi (d.1273)]

[No title]

There were 4 towns. In each town, people were starving to death. Each town had a bag of seeds.
     In the first town, no one knew what seeds could do. No one knew how to plant them

Everyone starved.

In the second town, one person knew what seeds were and how to plant them, but did nothing about it for one reason or another.

Everyone starved.

In the third town, one person knew what seeds were and how to plant them. He proposed to plant them in exchange for being declared the king or ruler. All ate, but were ruled.

In the fourth town, one person knew what seeds were and how to plant them. He not only planted the seeds, but taught everyone the art of gardening. All ate, and all were free and empowered.

[Traditional Sufi Story]

Repaying a Debt

The Hodja (teacher) was selling olives at the market and business was slow. He called to a woman who was passing by and tried to entice her. She shook her head and told him she didn't have any money with her.

"No problem," the Hodja grinned. "You can pay me later." She still looked hesitant, so he offered her one to taste.

"Oh no, I can't, I'm fasting," she responded.

"Fasting? But Ramadan was 6 months ago!"

"Yes, well, I missed a day and I'm making it up now. Go ahead and give me a kilo of the black olives."

"Forget it!" shouted the Hodja. "If it took you 6 months to pay back a debt you owed ALLAH, who knows when you'll get around to paying me!"

[Traditional Sufi Story]

[No Title]

Nasrudin, ferrying a pedant across a piece of rough water, said something ungrammatical to him.
"Have you never studied grammar?" asked the scholar.
"Then half of your life has been wasted."
A few minutes later Nasrudin turned to the passenger. "Have you ever learned how to swim?"
"No. Why?"
"Then all your life is wasted - we are sinking!"

[Traditional Sufi Story]


A man and a nail had a conversation.

The nail said: "I have often wondered during my years sticking here in this panel, what my fate is to be."

The man said: "Latent in your situation may be a tearing out with pliers, a burning of wood, and the rotting of the plank -- so many things."

Said the nail: "I should have known better than to ask such foolish questions! Nobody can foresee the future, let alone a variety of them, all so unlikely."

So the nail waited, until someone else came along, someone who would talk intelligently, and not threaten him.

So do we really want to know our fate, or even our present situation?

[Traditional Sufi Story]


A man being followed by a hungry tiger, turned in desperation to face it, and cried: "Why don't you leave me alone?"
The tiger answered: "Why don't you stop being so appetizing

[Traditional Sufi Story]

[No Title]

There was a donkey that went into a sea of salt. The donkey was eaten by the salt which destroyed him, eating his bones and flesh.  Whilst there was even one hair of the donkey remaining it could still be called 'donkey' but when even the last hair of the donkey had been eaten by the salt there was no more donkey - only salt.

[Story by Rumi]

[No Title]

Nawob Saheb came under criticism by some religious persons for sometimes taking people to the local cinema (in the days before television and videos). When one person made this particular criticism to him Nawob Saheb invited that person to go with him to a film. On return that person professed himself nonplused – though he had gone to see an ordinary film he had found that it appeared to him that he was watching nothing but the conversations of saints.

[This Sufi Story, purportedly actually happened, but questionable because not substantiate.]

[No Title]
Zahurmian was very ill and forced to remain in bed for a long period of time. One evening a disciple sat with him for several hours - nothing was said for a very long time, but in his company many wonderful things appeared to his consciousness apparently from within. After several hours he became mentally tired and was ready to turn in.  Suddenly Zahurmian sat upright in bed and described to him how as a boy he had an English man who was a teacher at his school. That teacher encouraged him always 'to go the extra mile'. With that he lay back down. The disciple understood that he wanted him to make more mental effort and remained with him for some time longer. When he eventually did take his leave of him to retire - though hardly any words other than those had passed between them—Zahurmian turned to his disciple, smiled and said, "Well, we had a good time, didn't we!"

[This Sufi Story is said to have actually occurred to Zahurmian]

[This following Sufi Story has not been confirmed for its veracity.  It is a tale written by a disciple concerning his teacher.  There is must reverence toward the Sufi teacher from students.  Christians can learn something from this devotion…respect for those who teach the Christian message.  We should never idolize Christian teachers, but we should always respect them.]

The Urs (death anniversary) of Khawaja Muinuddin Hasan Chishti had just formally concluded with the recitation of the Qur'an, cleaning of the tomb, and a short qwaali (music) session in the main Mehfil Khana. Those attending from the Sufi order had enjoyed moments of spiritual elevation mixed with hard formal discipline that actually underlie such events.

I cannot say for sure but perhaps some self-satisfaction with having passed six nights in the hot and demanding conditions had crept in. Or it may have been for some other reason that Khawaja Saheb showed us a fitting lesson.         

As we made our way back to Sharib House we went round a different route from normal in order to attempt to miss at least some of the vast throng of people who made it difficult to make any progress, even in a sizeable group as we were. This route took us across a marbled area - it was midday and very hot – the marble burnt almost instantly into the feet, (hot beaches are nothing by comparison), and it took every ounce of self discipline to maintain any attempt at composure as we walked across that furnace. However as we did so I became aware of the fact that all around us on that burning marble the villagers, the poor, and the country people who visit in their hundred thousands every year - were lying on the marble resting or sleeping with nothing more than the thinnest of cotton sheets under them.    

In an instant the real devotion that Khawaja Saheb inspires from the unsophisticated people, the real hardship they undergo to be there at that time burnt into our brain even more than the heat of the marble burnt into our feet. 

What can we say of a soul that inspires that so may hundreds of years after his apparent death?   We can only say one thing - he is no other than Khawaja Muinuddin Hasan Chishti.

[Missing the Point]

A shopkeeper had a cask of oil, which he sealed with his ring-impression after filling it full. His assistants, however, found that they could steal oil by drilling a hole near the bottom of the barrel and plugging it until they wanted to draw off the oil from there.

When the shopkeeper opened his cask and found that, although the top was secure, the level had gone down, he was baffled. He asked a wiser man, who was a customer at his shop, what this might mean.

The wise man said, 'Some has been drawn off from the bottom: why don’t you look there for the source of your problem?'

'Fool!' shouted the shopkeeper: 'I am talking about the oil that is missing from the top!'

What is the shopkeeper missing (besides some of his oil)?

[Sufi Story taken from Idries Shah's, The Commanding Self]

Sufi Practices—overview

The chief purpose of Sufi practices, such as meditation and healing, is the restoration of wholeness in people.  The Sufi masters, therefore, prescribe different medicine to their followers in the form of different kinds of practices with different intensities according to an individual’s condition.  It is found that every Sufi Order has its own particular invocation, its own chanting and recitation, and its own ceremonies and methods of sitting or standing. As well as the practices which are done collectively, the Sufi teacher often prescribes specific remedies for particular individuals, for example, if one of his close followers is ill or needs specific treatment, such as intense periods of night vigils or watchfulness.  Whatever their apparent differences, one element that is found in common in all of the Sufi Orders is a deep relationship between the spiritual master and the close follower.  The relationship is based on trust, love and obedience to the master. It is said that the best follower for a master is like a rag in the hands of a washerman. It is through such submissiveness and obedience that the meaning of the teaching of the spiritual master is quickly absorbed.

Sufis believe that any meditation or divine adoration and invocation or recitation is spiritually helpful.  It is like taking a general tonic that helps everyone, whatever their ailments may be.  However, in the case of acute or chronic illness, a tonic only brings temporary and limited relief, and the services of a skilled physician are required.  The various forms of remembrance of Allah of every Sufi Order is said to be of assistance.  Every recitation that has come from the genuine spiritual master supposedly has some benefit, even for the one who recites them without having had them prescribed for him, but when a specific form of remembrance of Allah is individually prescribed by a spiritual master, and is transmitted from heart to heart, then an effective step towards freedom has been taken, as the Sufi believes.

Numerous Sufi masters and saints have come up with certain invocations, recitations, chants and supplications that are believed to help the seeker to purify and uplift himself.  Circles and gatherings of remembrance of God (dhikr) are held to help purify the self by means of abandoning thought and concern with mundane affairs.  Sufis believe that much help comes by concentrating on a special, specific sound repeatedly, much as in some forms of Buddhism.  Sufis believe that the energy that emanates from the presence of many people in a circle of remembrance of Allah creates 'openings' to the 'heart' and produces light-heartedness in the seekers.  It is believed by Sufis that different spiritual masters, according to different circumstances and times, have brought about different remedies for curing the maladies of the self.

Most of the Sufi Orders practice remembrance of Allah by chanting or singing, with the occasional use of musical instruments, especially drums. Music has entered into the practices of the Sufi Orders in a very limited way, and often for a temporary period under the guidance of a spiritual master.   In the case of the Indian sub-Continent, the Sufis found that the Hindus were already very fond of music, so they also used music in order to bring them to the path of self-awareness, remembrance of God and joyful abandonment. So although musical instruments were used for that purpose and with that intention, they were however generally considered to be unnecessary distractions. Most of what is sung is concerned with the spiritual path and has no relationship to ordinary songs. They are often descriptions of how to liberate oneself from one's own shackles and how to be awakened.

The Sufi believes that an enlightened master sees the entire cosmos in his heart.  The enlightened master regards his heart as the sacred house of worship of God at the center of the cosmos.  He sees Allah's trace at all times everywhere.  However, for a lay person, in spiritual maters, it appears as if God is more present at certain times and in certain places than at other times or places.

It is believed by Sufis that the ultimate purpose of all genuine Sufi practices is the experiential awakening into the infinite realities as they unfold in their own natural way within each heart.  The scintillations of light that emanate from within are innumerable and infinite in their combination and permutation, engulfing all attributes, and yet their essence is one. The real Sufi will not rest until he is established in the knowledge of the essence, and when that occurs, all other lights, manifestations and glorious attributes fade in the effulgence of that inner awakening.

Specific Sufi Practices—

{In reading what is below, remember what I wrote about the Sufi subtleties.  (The teacher is the Holy Spirit.  In the Book of John it is stated that one needs no other teacher but the Holy Spirit of Truth, after a person has accepted Christ.  This does not mean one does not need counsel.  What it means is that the Holy Spirit is resident in a person.  As a person grows in Christ, the Holy Spirit is enabled to teach that person more and more.  The Holy Spirit is not static.  It teaches a person as that person grows in Christ.  In effect, no one teaches another.  The Holy Spirit does the teaching.  Other Christians are conduits of the Holy Spirit.  Sufis do no teach this.  This is a Christian concept.)  Do not be misled by the casuistry and sophisms of the Sufi.}

One Sufi Teaching Order……..(edited with comments by R. Coleman, DD)

The Naqshbandī Golden Chain

An explanation by Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani

The head of every lecture is:

Obey God, obey the Prophet (s), and obey those in authority among you.  (4: 59). 

By obeying God you are obeying the Prophet (s), and by obeying the Prophet (s) you are obeying God.  Therefore always keep your Lord and the Prophet (s) in your heart; and when you obey your teacher, it means that you are obeying the Prophet (s).

A teacher is very important and everyone must have a teacher.  Without a teacher, no one can progress and no one can find his way and his path.  Even the Prophet (s), and all messengers that God has sent to this world, had teachers.  They had the angel Gabriel who was a teacher for them.  That is why we have to take a teacher that will show us the way to the Prophet (s) and to God.  Don’t think that you can arrive anywhere without one; it is impossible.  By yourself you can never arrive anywhere because if you lose the way, you will be truly lost.  So use someone who knows the way, who has traveled that way before and is experienced.  He will take you by the hand and lead you directly to your goal without going here or there to get lost.

That is why we have a Golden Chain.  That chain of teachers and masters related to each other goes back without interruption to the Prophet (s).  [The chain does not go back to Christ.  Did you catch this subtlety?  There is no referring back to Christ.  Do not be deceived.] This is what we need:  a direct chain.  We don’t want a chain that is broken somewhere.  A pipe carrying water underground from one village to another has to be completely whole.  If there is one hole somewhere, the water will never come.  If that chain of saints is broken you can never arrive to the Prophet (s).  [Again, remember the Sufis are not including Christ in this chain.  Therefore, the weakest link in this chain is that Christ is not present.]

Some people say, “We are following Sufism, Buddhism, or Hinduism, or Christianity, or Judaism, or yoga, reiki, or transcendental meditation” or any other kind of religion or belief.  If you ask them, “Who is your teacher?” they will answer, “So-and-so."  And who is So-and-so’s teacher? Now, we are not saying anything against any kind of belief for all beliefs will take you to the destination you seek; but understand what we are asking:  who is your teacher’s teacher? That person will not know what to answer.  {The Christian will know who is Jesus’ teacher.  Since Jesus is God, He is his own teacher.  Do not be deceived by what this Sufi is saying.  Remember, Christ is not in this Sufis’ realm of thought, therefore, what he is saying is not based on Truth or on Wisdom’s essence.}

Someone might say, “His origin comes from 2,000 years, or 3,000 years, or 6,000 years of mystic teaching and saints."  Then what is the condition of that “pipe” of several thousand years’ length? Who are the teachers that form it, the masters and grandmasters that transmitted it? No one knows; they know two or three or four teachers, then that knowledge stops.

A tree that doesn’t have roots doesn’t give fruit.  A tree that is only slightly rooted in the ground will be thrown down by the first wind.  Its grounding is too weak.  A teacher must never be “grafted onto,” therefore, without one knowing who is his teacher, his grand-teacher, his great-grand-teacher, and so on, until the origin of your path.  That is why true Sūfī teachers are the most connected ones and the most powerful masters in this world:  they have true connection, they know their origin.  {They are not connected to Christ…how then can their connection be true?}  If you don’t know your origin, you are not connected anywhere, or you don’t know where you are connected.

Can you give us a sequence of teachers from the founder of your way up to the present? Do not simply mention a name from 3,000 years ago.  We want an uninterrupted chain, without a single one missing.  You cannot find such a chain, in any path of spirituality or philosophy, except in Sufism there is such a chain.  And without such a chain you cannot go anywhere.  {This is false, again.  God speaks through the teaching of the Holy Spirit which was given by Christ at Pentecost.  This Sufi, in denying Christ, is making unfounded statements with no truth in them.}  That is why you need a Sūfī teacher to take you to your destination.  {One does not need a Sufi teacher to take one to the source of Truth.  Remember again, Sufis do not accept Christ as coming from the Father. They do not accept the Truth, so how can they even claim to be able to take one to the Truth.  Christ said that He is the way, the Truth, and the Life.  NO ONE can come to the Father save through Him.  NO ONE! }

[The following is interesting reading, but of no import for one who is serious about wanting to learn the truth.  Remember, this is written by a person who does not believe the core of what Christ taught about Himself….R. Coleman, DD.]

Here is knowledge taken from the heart of the Prophet (s) and handed down through that chain of teachers.  You cannot find it in any book.

Our Grandshaykh said, God bless his secret, relates that the Prophet (s), shortly after he was born, was immediately taken by the angels from his mother.  As they took him, they were present in the blink of an eye in the Ocean of Al-Hayy.  God has 99 Names and Attributes, and every attribute is an endless ocean of knowledge which no one can comprehend.  One of those oceans of knowledge is from the Name Al-Hayy, the Living One.  Whoever knows the secret of that name never dies.  He lives always – not by himself, but with everyone, because everyone is living through the light of God in his heart.  When you are swimming in the attribute of that Name of God, it means that you are possessing that light, which you are with every person and know what every person is doing.  That is where the Prophet (s) was taken by the angels, who were ordered to bathe his heart in “Ma’ul hayat,” the Water of Life.  As soon as they put his heart in the Water of Life, he immediately possessed and was dressed with “An-Nūr al-Ilahi,” Divine Light.  And when he was dressed with that Divine light, from that very time everything was opened to him, no veils were left.  After that, the Prophet (s) was dressed from God’s Ocean of Power, “Bahrul-Qudrah.”

The Prophet (s) therefore received three attributes as he came out from Ma’ul hayat:  First, he was washed with the Water of Life and given eternal Life.  Second, he received Divine Light.  At that time, as we said, he was feeling with everyone and being with everyone.  That is the meaning of the verse,

Wa'lamu anna fikum Rasūlullāh” (al-Hujurāt 7).  “Know that the Prophet (s) is with you, among you, inside you,” because he was dressed with that Divine Light.  That is why the Prophet (s) can know what you are feeling, what your future is, what you are doing, and what is going to happen both here and hereafter.  God has given him that power.

Third, the Prophet (s) received the Divine power of God’s Ocean of Power.  This is being spoken from high knowledge and must be understood carefully.  That was the attribute from “Bahrul-Qudrah,” the Ocean of Power, which the Prophet Moses (as) asked for and God did not give.  Moses (as) asked God to give him from that Ocean of Power, to be able to say to something, “Be!” and it will be; God said, “No:  look at the mountain; I am going to send that light on that mountain.  If the mountain stands still, you will be given that power.  If it melts or is destroyed, you cannot be given that power.  You are going to melt also."  When God sent that light to the mountain the mountain melted and Moses (as) "melted" with it.  (Cf. al-‘Araf 143) That is why God told him it was not for him, but for the last Prophet (s).

God has given to the Prophet (s) that Ocean of Power, with which he can say to anything, “Be!” and it will be – without having to go back to God to ask for permission, for he is swimming in that Ocean.  The Prophet (s) said, “Whatever God has poured into my heart I have poured into the heart of Abū Bakr as-Siddīq (r),” then Abū Bakr gave everything to Salmān al-Fārsī  (r), Salmān to Qāsim, Qāsim to Ja'far, Ja'far to Tayfur [Bistami], Tayfur to Sayyidinā Khidr (as) – and that secret is coming down to this day to Grandshaykh, and from Grandshaykh to Mawlānā Shaykh Nāzim.

When God has given something, He will not take it back.  He is al-Karim, the Generous. The meaning of true generosity is that when you give something, you do not take it back and you do not regret giving it; if you do, you are not generous.  God gave this power to the Prophet (s), to say “BE!” to anything and it will be, and he is keeping it for the last Day, in order to bring everyone to Paradise.  The Prophet (s) is not going to leave anyone behind, by means of his intercession, shafa`a.  He is going to take everyone by the hand and bring them to Paradise.  Such is our Prophet (s).

After these three attributes come the five levels of the heart.  As God dressed him, the Prophet’s (s) heart was immediately endowed with the Divine power of five positions of the heart one after another in quick succession.  The first level is the Station of the Heart; then the Secret; then the Secret of the Secret; then the Hidden; then the Most Hidden.

Grandshaykh and Mawlānā Shaykh Nāzim said that, after the Prophet (s) had been dressed with all these levels, whatever sins and bad manners come from this nation, even if the sins of every person are innumerable, and even if the sins are of the number of the Community of the Prophet (s) – according to Sūfī teachings, 400 billion – it is the same, for the Prophet (s), as something one cleans off with a little bit of water.  Such is the light that God has given to the Prophet (s) that he can clean all these sins for the benefit of this Community, through the power of intercession God has granted him, as if nothing had happened.

"You are the best Nation that God has sent forth to mankind," Allah revealed to the Prophet (s).

And the Prophet (s) said, “The best nation, the most favorite nation, is the last nation." 

You are the last nation.  According to Grandshaykh, this world has no more than fifty years left.  After fifty years, something is going to happen the like of which you have never heard about.  Judgment Day is after these fifty years by another forty.  All is finished ninety years from now.  Through those mercies with which the Prophet (s) has been dressed, all sins of human beings are going to be taken away. 

Grandshaykh said that, even if every person has four hundred billion sins, it would be nothing; even if it were to amount to the number of God’s creations, universes, and beings.  Even then it remains easy for the Ocean of the Prophet (s) to take away all these sins as if nothing had touched you.

The Prophet (s) said, "My intercession is for those who commit major sins in my Community."

Those who commit minor sins will receive Allah's Forgiveness, for they were worshipping, keeping their obligations and repenting from what they did. Those who committed major sins (kaba'ir) are in need of the Prophet's (s) shafa`a, his intercession, and with it they are saved.

Do not think that God has created this creation and left it just like that.  God is going to dress His saints, and to dress the Prophet (s) from His attributes and from His lights in order to take everyone from miseries and sins to the highest levels in the hereafter.

When Salmān al-Fārsī  (r), one of the greatest Companions who came after Sayyidinā Abū Bakr as-Siddīq (r), came from Persia, he knew from books he had read and from extraordinary signs in the stars that the last Prophet (s) was going to appear.  He knew that there would be a very big incident in this world.  In order to come to Mecca, he sold himself as a slave to some people coming to Mecca, and he walked the camel of the person who bought him 5,000 miles from Persia to Mecca, in order to meet the Prophet (s).  Now, we are reluctant to go even 20 or 40 miles by car, and we say that it is too far to go.  Look at the saints traveling long, far distances in order to meet the Prophet (s).

When the Prophet (s) was brought to this world by his mother, Sayyidinā Salmān al-Fārsī (r) heard the happiness of wild animal saying, “Allāhu Akbar!” for everyone in this universe was happy, including animals, trees and stars, because the last prophet was coming, and everyone knew that God was going to dress him with His lights – all knew and were happy except us human beings.  Human beings are jealous of the Prophet (s) and say, “Why has God chosen him?”

Grandshaykh said, “I am speaking from that Ocean of Knowledge that is going to be opened when Mahdī (as) is coming.  The extent of the knowledge that I am opening up is like light that would be coming through the hole of a needle." 

If Mawlānā is speaking as if from the hole of a needle, then what we are saying now is nothing compared to reality.  What is going to come is something concerning which you are going to lose your minds. 

This is the explanation of Sayyidinā Abū Hurayrah's (r) affirmation in hadīth:  “The Prophet (s) has put in my heart two kinds of knowledges.  One knowledge I have disseminated among the people; but if I tell the other knowledge they will cut my neck."  What Grandshaykh says is of the second type of knowledge – something extraordinary which is going to be spread in Mahdī’s time, but which today is kept in the heart of Allah's chosen servants.

Grandshaykh said that these things have been opened on the heart of the Prophet (s) from the time of his birth and that his heart is like a glass of water, transparent from all sides.  His heart was so transparent from the light of God that wherever the Prophet (s) looked, he could get knowledge and wisdom and therefore speak from knowledge and wisdom.

Grandshaykh said that when the Prophet’s (s) soul was taken away from his physical body by angels to the presence of his Lord, after his mother gave birth to him, his mother was afraid that he had passed away because the body did not move for a full hour.  But the angel Gabriel¡ quickly came and said to her, “Don’t be afraid and don’t tell anyone; leave it.  God has taken his soul in order for his heart to be washed, and in order to open to him the attributes of the 99 Names – all the Oceans of all the Names of God."  According to the Islamic religion, God has 99 names:  each Name covers an Attribute and each Attribute is an Ocean of Knowledge whose depth no one can know.

Say: "If the ocean were ink (wherewith to write out) the words of my Lord, sooner would the ocean be exhausted than would the words of my Lord, even if we added another ocean like it, for its aid." (18:109)

God washed the Prophet’s (s) heart with “Bismillah al-A'dham,” the Greatest Name.  Until today every saint is trying to know what the Greatest Name of God is, but no one can know, for that secret has not been opened to anyone yet, except to the Prophet (s) who has received that Name in his heart.  No veil was left on the heart of the Prophet (s) when God washed his heart with the river of Kawthar, the river of Paradise God gave to the Prophet (s) when He said:

 “We have given you the Kawthar. (Kawthar, 1).

”If anyone bathes in it, his heart will never die."

That is why the Prophet (s) said, “I am alive and fresh in my grave.”

When he was only one hour old, the Prophet (s) asked God as He was washing him, “O my Lord, what about my nation? Aren’t you going to wash my nation also with the water of this river? If not, I am not accepting to be washed alone.  I must have my nation with me; I cannot be without my nation."  According to the Prophet (s), when he asked this from God, God washed his entire nation with that River of Life.  He washed them and cleaned their hearts until their hearts were clean and transparent like the Prophet’s (s), and He gave them to the Prophet (s):  “I am giving you your nation, clean, pure, lenient-hearted, softhearted, merciful, and humble, loving and respecting each other.  Are you taking them?” The Prophet (s) looked at all of them and saw them all pure and clean and said, “I am accepting them."  When he said he would take them, God showed him there and then how much they were going to sin when they would come to this world.  The Prophet (s) said, “O my Lord, what have You done?” God said, “Never mind: light will never disappear from their hearts.  They are going to dress that light with darkness; but it is going to be like a cloth, and I am giving you saints who will be your helpers, in order to polish their hearts and clean them.”

We are a forgiven Nation. God has entrusted us to the Prophet (s) with His Mercy.  You are going to hear more and more of these lectures.  Yet what we have said is child’s play.  When Grandshaykh gives permission to talk from such knowledge, these lectures are not for everyone to hear.  They are special and that subject can only be opened with permission from Grandshaykh and Mawlānā Shaykh Nāzim.

After the Prophet (s) accepted his Nation with their light, and after God showed him the sins they were going to commit, the Prophet (s) asked for helpers.  God immediately gave him 7,007 Naqshbandī saints to help him clean the nation.  Out of these he gave him 313 of a higher level.  Out of these He gave him 40 masters of the Golden Chain:  our link to the Prophet (s).  Our forty masters are trying their best to clean everyone of their sins with the light that God has given to their hearts.  You are lucky that you are in the hands of one of these masters – the last master in this chain, the fortieth master.

What is Kawthar? According to scriptural tradition it is a river in Paradise, but according to the Sufi orders, in Sufi understanding and Sufi knowledge, Kawthar is the name of one of the Grandshaykhs.  That Grandshaykh, with the water that God made him symbolize by name, can take away all the sins of all of his followers, and present them clean to the Prophet (s) every night.  That is why you must be happy that you have been connected to a big master of this Golden Chain.

Grandshaykh and our Master Shaykh Nāzim asked, Why has God given prophecy to the Prophet (s)? Just for him? Grandshaykh is saying, "No:  God has given that power and dressed him with the manifestations of the 99 Divine Names and Attributes and all this light, for the sake of this Nation, His Community. All that is in order that the Prophet (s) would dress each one of us with similar light, to share with us all the attributes of the Prophetic character, the Sunnah, in its outward and inward manifestations.  God has told the Prophet (s), 'O my beloved Prophet, I am going to ask you personally – I want everyone of this nation of my servants similar to you....' It is a great and tremendous secret that the Prophet (s) is under this responsibility:  to make everyone of us, everyone of his Community, similar to him.  In worship, he is going to share with us all his worship; in order to clean and dress us with all that he has been dressed with, and to present us to God clean and pure, through the power of intercession (shafa`a) that God has granted him.  This is his duty.

Grandshaykh and Mawlānā Shaykh Nāzim said, In every moment the Prophet (s) is progressing a redoubled distance in the Divine Presence, “Yataraqqa mithlayni mithlayn,” in growing geometrical sequence, each moment doubling the previous  progress.  He is progressing, and at the same time taking his Community by the hand with him – without discrimination and without differentiation.  This Community is a Community of servants, and servants are servants.  Slaves are slaves! There is no difference between them! All of them are slaves before God, and the Prophet (s) is looking at them as one and taking them by the hand.

The Prophet (s) said, an-naasu sawaasiyyata ka asnaan al-mashti - "mankind are equal like the teeth of a comb."

This knowledge is going to be opened in Mahdī’s (as) and Jesus' (as) time.  Now this is only a smell of the knowledge of what is going to happen later.  When people speak to tell you about Sufism, what are they talking about? They are children in relation to that Golden Chain who is taking from the Prophet’s (s) heart.  What is going to be opened will dwarf what all these people calling themselves Sufi masters are saying.  They are going to find themselves as children.  Their knowledge will be as nothing.  That is why Sayyidinā Muhiyyuddīn Ibn al-'Arabi, after writing Al-Futūhāt al-Makkīyyah said, “I don’t know what I wrote."  He used to sleep with a pen by his side; when he woke up he found that the pen had written.  That is also how he wrote Fusus al-Hikam and all his books.  Even he did not understand, and now they are “explaining” what even he did not understand.  What are you going to understand of what he said? This degree of high knowledge in Sufism cannot be opened, even if you think you see it:  if you have a television you can see something but you do not feel.  In Sufism, if you don’t feel and live the event, you can never reach the level on which it is described.

Sufism is “dhawq,” taste.  You have many kinds of food.  People take the best food and they try to taste it from here [points to mouth] to here [points to top of throat].  After that point all foods are the same.  Similarly, when you look at the television, it is as if “from here to here."  You are neither tasting nor feeling anything.  If you cannot feel or taste, it is not Sufism, but a mirror reflection of Sufism, an image.  And all these “Shaykhs” – they cannot be called by that name in fact, because a Shaykh is high – all these people that are explaining Sufism are not tasting nor feeling.  Yet feeling and tasting are the most important matter in Sufism.  Now you will say, “You are speaking also like them.  Why are you not feeling and tasting?” I will tell you that there is not yet permission to take you by the hand and make you taste and feel.  This is only when Mahdī (as) comes.  Otherwise this world could not carry you.  If you give a child a candy, he would trade a diamond for it and lose the diamond.  If you are going to be given such knowledge, you are going to waste it if there is no support from Mahdī, who is coming very soon.  That support is needed.  Without it, you will never have the door of feeling and tasting opened for you.

A Sufi leader must have 'Ilmu‘l-Yaqīn, 'Aynu‘l-Yaqīn, Haqqu‘l-Yaqīn – the Knowledge of Certainty, the Vision of Certainty, the Truth of Certainty.  First is the “knowledge of certainty,” which is the necessity to know that there is such knowledge and to hear about it.  When you hear it, you go to the second level, but you have to hear first.  That is why God in Qur’ān, as well as all the Sufi masters, from Jalāluddīn Rūmī to Ibn al-Hishām, to Hallaj, to Abā Yazīd al-Bistāmī, mention hearing as the first thing.  Knowledge cannot come by seeing first but from a teacher that is heard, even for a blind man.  A deaf person, on the other hand, cannot even begin to get knowledge.  When the Archangel Gabriel (as) came to the Prophet (s), the first thing he said to him was “Read,” and the Prophet (s) was hearing and listening.  That is why Sufism is giving orders which one fulfills by hearing, not by seeing.

This first level is not achieved by hearing and not caring, but by hearing, accepting and fulfilling through action! If your Shaykh says to go to the mountain and stay there until I come, and he does not show up, you will stay there for years, until he appears, if you do not do that, you are still a child in Sufi knowledge.  In the Naqshbandī order you have to obey, and obedience comes through hearing.  If you do it, then you move up to the second level.

Once, Grand-Grandshaykh Shaykh Sharafuddin said, in a meeting of big masters, as Grandshaykh was on his way to meet them – still a teenager at the time – as they sat in a remote place far outside the city:  “My son ‘Abdullāh Effendi has reached a level where no one has set foot yet – not myself, nor all the Golden Chain masters.  He is only 18 and I am 60, yet he has reached a level that is higher than mine and all the Golden Chain masters that have passed away.  If I am going to send him a child of seven years to tell him, “Your Shaykh is ordering you to direct yourself to Mecca for pilgrimage,” from Daghestan here in the middle of Russia, he will immediately think, without coming and asking me for confirmation whether this is true or not, “Who is making that child speak? My Shaykh has to know even before I know.  Otherwise, how have I accepted him as a Shaykh and yet represent him as not knowing anything? If my Shaykh doesn’t know, who will know?” Immediately he will believe the child, and without going back to his house to tell his mother or his wife that he wants to go to pilgrimage; without taking any clothes, money, or food, he will direct himself to Makkah which is 10,000 miles away, walking, without asking anything.  He will know the order comes from me and will simply change the direction of his walk.”

This is “Wahdatu‘l-af'al,” Unification of actions or deeds or words – you must see everything as coming from God.  This is a higher level in Sufi knowledge.  You cannot see people doing anything anymore, but you must consider them instruments in the hands of God.  Leave the child – if Shaykh Nāzim comes to you and says, “Go to Mecca,” you will say, “Okay, my Shaykh, but I have to buy a ticket, and I have to see if my wife gives me permission..."  In the Naqshbandī order you cannot do all this.  You have to move immediately.

The second level is 'Aynu‘l-Yaqīn, the true vision.  At that time you are going to see things around you, but without feeling.  It will be like a screen which is lifted only in the third level, Haqqu‘l-Yaqīn, the reality of truth – you are there and living that incident.  If Grandshaykh is saying what we were saying before about the Prophet (s), how he was taken and how his heart was washed, at hearing this you are going to live that event as if you were living and feeling everything at that time.  If Mawlānā Shaykh Nāzim is talking about an incident which happened 500 years ago, for example, you are going to live as if you were living at that time, hearing, seeing and feeling what they were hearing, seeing and feeling, juts as if you were one of them.

This is the Sufi taste and the knowledge of the Naqshbandī order which connects its seekers to the Golden Chain.  This cannot be opened until the time of Mahdī (as) – unless, for some special followers, Mawlānā Shaykh Nāzim opens it with permission from the Prophet (s).  It is not common to all.  The rest must wait for the support of Mahdī's power to enter that level; otherwise people will be condemned for speaking about what they see.

In the Naqshbandī order the Shaykh can never make you be different from people and this is the perfect order:  you see the Shaykh who has all this power, feeling everything and living all the events, and describing them, yet behaving as an ordinary person.  The Shaykh will therefore never accept to open knowledge for you if you are not ready and if he sees that you are going to show what he gave you to the public.  That is why there is no permission yet for that door to be opened.

Below are some Sufis who have supposedly passed on what they teach is the Secret of the Golden Chain.  This list of Sufis here who have passed on the Secret is not exhaustive.

Prominent Sufis and their Sayings, those who have passed on the Secret of the Golden Chain.

Tayfur Abu Yazid al-Bistami
May Allah Be Well Pleased With Him

"I have planted love in my heart
and shall not be distracted until Judgment Day.
You have wounded my heart when You came near me.
My desire grows, my love is bursting.
He has poured me a sip to drink.
He has quickened my heart with the cup of love
Which he has filled at the ocean of friendship."

Attributed to Bayazid.

His Life

Bayazid's grandfather was a Zoroastrian from Persia. Bayazid made a detailed study of the statutes of Islamic law (shari`a) and practiced a strict regimen of self-denial (zuhd). All his life he was assiduous in the practice of his religious obligations and in observing voluntary worship.

He urged his students (murids) to put their affairs in the hands of Allah and he encouraged them to accept sincerely the pure doctrine of tawhid (the Oneness of God). This doctrine consisted of five essentials: to keep the obligations according to the Qur'an and Sunnah, to always speak the truth, to keep the heart free from hatred, to avoid forbidden food and to shun innovations (bid`a).

His Sayings

One of his sayings was, "I have come to know Allah through Allah, and I have come to know what is other than Allah with the light of Allah." He said, "Allah has granted his servants favors for the purpose of bringing them closer to Him. Instead they are fascinated with the favors and are drifting farther from Him." And he said, praying to Allah, "O Allah, You have created this creation without their knowledge, and You have placed on them a trust without their will. If You don't help them who will help them?"

Bayazid said the ultimate goal of the Sufi is to experience the vision of Allah in the Hereafter. To that effect he said, "There are special servants of Allah who, if Allah veiled Himself from their sight in Paradise, would implore Him to take them out of Paradise just as the inhabitants of the Fire implore Him to release them from Hell."

He said about Allah's love for His servant, "If Allah loves His servant He will grant three attributes that are the proofs of His Love: generosity like the generosity of the ocean, and favor like the favor of the Sun in its giving of light, and modesty like the modesty of the Earth. The true lover never considers any affliction too great and never decreases his worship because of his pure faith."

A man asked Bayazid, "Show me a deed by which I will approach my Lord." He said, "Love the friends of Allah in order that they will love you. Love his saints until they love you. Because Allah looks at the hearts of His saints and He will see your name engraved in the heart of His saints and He will forgive you." For this reason, the Naqshbandi followers have been elevated by their love for their shaikhs. This love lifts them to a station of continuous pleasure and continuous presence in the heart of their beloved.

Many Muslim scholars in his time, and many after his time, said that Bayazid al-Bistami was the first one to spread the Reality of Annihilation (fana'). Even that strictest of scholars, Ibn Taymiyya, who came in the 7th Century A.H., admired Bayazid for this and considered him to be one of his masters. Ibn Taymiyya said about him, "There are two categories of fana': one is for the perfect Prophets and saints, and one is for seekers from among the saints and pious people (saliheen). Bayazid al-Bistami is from the first category of those who experience fana', which means the complete renunciation of anything other than God. He accepts none except God. He worships none except Him, and he asks from none except Him." He continues, quoting Bayazid saying, "I want not to want except what He wants."

It was reported about Bayazid that he said, "I divorced the lower world thrice in order that I could not return to it and I moved to my Lord alone, without anyone, and I called on Him alone for help by saying, 'O Allah, O Allah, no one remains for me except You.' At that time I came to know the sincerity of my supplication in my heart and the reality of the helplessness of my ego. Immediately the acceptance of that supplication was perceived by my heart. This opened to me a vision that I was no longer in existence and I vanished completely from myself into His self. And He brought up all that I had divorced before in front of me, and dressed me with light and with His attributes."

Bayazid said, "Praise to Me, for My greatest Glory!" And he continued saying, "I set forth on an ocean when the [earlier] prophets were still by the shore." And he said, "O My Lord, Your obedience to me is greater than my obedience to You." This means, "O God, You are granting my request and I have yet to obey You."

He said, "I made four mistakes in my preliminary steps in this way: I thought that I remember Him and I know Him and I love Him and I seek Him, but when I reached Him I saw that His remembering of me preceded my remembrance of Him, and His knowledge about me preceded my knowledge of Him and His love towards me was more ancient than my love towards Him, and He sought me in order that I would begin to seek Him."

Adh-Dhahabi quoted him in many great matters, among which were "Praise to Me, for My greatest Glory!" and "There is nothing in this robe I am wearing except Allah." Adh-Dhahabi's teacher Ibn Taymiyya explained, "He didn't see himself as existing any longer, but only saw the existence of Allah, due to his self-denial."

Adh-Dhahabi further relates, "He said, O Allah, what is your Fire? It is nothing. Let me be the one person to go into your Fire and everyone else will be saved. And what is your Paradise? It is a toy for children. And who are those unbelievers who you want to torture? They are your servants. Forgive them."

Ibn Hajar said, in reference to Bayazid's famous utterances, "Allah knows the secret and Allah knows the heart. Whatever Aba Yazid spoke from the Knowledge of Realities the people of his time did not understand. They condemned him and exiled him seven times from his city. Every time he was exiled, terrible afflictions would strike the city until the people would call him back, pledge allegiance to him, and accept him as a real saint."

Attar and Arusi relate that Bayazid said, when he was exiled from his city, "O Blessed city, whose refuse is Bayazid!"

One time Bayazid said, "Allah the Most Just called me into His Presence and said to me, 'O Bayazid how did you arrive in My Presence?' I replied, 'Through zuhd, by renouncing the world.' He said, 'The value of the lower world is like the wing of a mosquito. What kind of renunciation have you come with?' I said, 'O Allah, forgive me.' Then I said, 'O Allah, I came to you through tawakkul, by dependence on You.' Then He said, 'Did I ever betray the trust which I promised you?' I said, 'O Allah forgive me.' Then I said, 'O Allah, I came to you through You.' At that time Allah said, 'Now We accept you.'"

He said, "I stood with the pious and I didn't find any progress with them. I stood with the warriors in the cause and I didn't find a single step of progress with them. I stood with those who pray excessively and those who fast excessively and I didn't make a footstep of progress. Then I said, 'O Allah, what is the way to You?' and Allah said, 'Leave yourself and come.'"

Ibrahim Khawwas said, "The way that Allah showed to him, with the most delicate word and the simplest explanation, was to 'leave your self-interest in the two worlds, the dunya and the Hereafter, leave everything other than Me behind.' That is the best and easiest way to come to Allah Almighty and Exalted, the most perfect and highest state of affirming Oneness, not to accept anything or anyone except Allah the Most High."

One of the followers of Dhul Nun al-Misri was following Bayazid. Bayazid asked him, "Who do you want?" He replied, "I want Bayazid." He said, "O my son, Bayazid is wanting Bayazid for forty years and is still not finding him." That disciple of Dhul Nun then went to him and narrated this incident to him. On hearing it Dhul Nun fainted. He explained later saying, "My master Bayazid has lost himself in Allah's love. That causes him to try to find himself again."

They asked him, "Teach us about how you reached true Reality." He said, "By training myself, by seclusion." They said, "How?" He said, "I called my self to accept Allah Almighty and Exalted, and it resisted. I took an oath that I would not drink water and I would not taste sleep until I brought my self under my control."

He also said, "O Allah! it is not strange that I love You because I am a weak servant, but it is strange that You love me when You are the King of Kings."

He said, "For thirty years, when I wanted to remember Allah and do dhikr I used to wash my tongue and my mouth for His glorification."

He said, "As long as the servant thinks that there is among the Muslims someone lower than himself, that servant still has pride."

They asked him, "Describe your day and describe your night." He said, "I don't have a day and I don't have a night, because day and night are for those who have characteristics of creation. I have shed my self the way the snake sheds its skin."

Of Sufism Bayazid said: "It is to give up rest and to accept suffering."

Of the obligation to follow a guide, he said: "Who does not have a sheikh, his sheikh is Satan."

Of seeking God he said, "Hunger is a rain cloud. If a servant becomes hungry, Allah will shower his heart with wisdom."

Of his intercession he said, "If Allah will give me permission to intercede for all the people of my time I will not be proud, because I am only interceding for a piece of clay," and "If Allah gave me permission for intercession, first I would intercede for those who harmed me and those who denied me."

To a young man who wanted a piece of his old cloak for baraka (blessing), Bayazid said: "Should you take all Bayazid's skin and wear it as yours, it would avail you nothing unless you followed his example."

They said to him, "The key for Paradise is 'La ilaha ill-Allah' (witnessing that there is no god except Allah)." He said, "It is true, but a key is for opening a lock; and the key of such witnessing can only operate under the following conditions:

1) a tongue which doesn't lie nor backbite;
2) a heart without betrayal;
3) a stomach without a doubtful provision;
4) deeds without desire or innovation."

He said, "The ego or self always looks at the world and the ruh  (spirit) always looks at the next life and ma`rifat (spiritual knowledge) always looks at Allah Almighty and Exalted. He whose self defeats him is from those who are destroyed, and he whose spirit is victorious over his self, he is of the pious, and he whose spiritual knowledge overcomes his self, he is of the God-conscious."

Ad-Dailami said, "One time I asked `Abdur Rahman bin Yahya about the state of trust in Allah (tawakkul). He said, "If you put your hand in the mouth of a lion, don't be afraid of other than Allah." I went in my heart to visit and ask Bayazid about this matter. I knocked and I heard from inside, "Wasn't what `Abdur Rahman said to you enough? You came only to ask, and not with the intention of visiting me." I understood and I came again another time one year later, knocking at his door. This time he answered, "Welcome my son, this time you came to me as a visitor and not as a questioner."

They asked him "When does a man become a man?" He said, "When he knows the mistakes of his self and he busies himself in correcting them."

He said, "I was twelve years the blacksmith of my self, and five years the polisher of the mirror of my heart, and for one year I was looking in that mirror and I saw on my belly the girdle of unbelief. I tried hard to cut it and I spent twelve years in that effort. Then I looked in that mirror and I saw inside my body that girdle. I spent five years cutting it. Then I spent one year looking at what I had done. And Allah opened for me the vision of all creations. And I saw all of them dead. And I prayed four takbiras of janaza (funeral prayer) over them."

He said one time: "If the Throne and what is around it and what is in it were placed in the corner of the heart of a Knower, they would be lost completely inside it."

Of Bayazid's state, al-`Abbas ibn Hamza related the following: "I prayed behind Bayazid the Dhuhr prayer, and when he raised his hands to say 'Allahu Akbar' he was unable to pronounce the words, in fear of Allah's Holy Name, and his entire body was trembling and the sound of bones breaking came from him; I was seized by fear."

Munawi relates that one day, Bayazid attended the class of a faqih (jurisprudent) who was explaining the laws of inheritance: "When a man dies and leaves such-and-such, his son will have such-and-such, etc." Bayazid exclaimed: "O faqih, O faqih! What would you say of a man who died leaving nothing but God?" People began to cry, and Bayazid continued: "The slave possesses nothing; when he dies, he leaves nothing but his own master. He is such as Allah created him in the beginning." And he recited: "You shall return to us alone, as we created you the first time" [6:94].

Sahl at-Tustari sent a letter to Bayazid which read: "Here is a man who drank a drink which leaves him forever refreshed." Bayazid replied: "Here is a man who has drunk all existences, but whose mouth is dry and burn with thirst."

His Death

When Bayazid died, he was over seventy years old. Before he died, someone asked him his age. He said: "I am four years old. For seventy years I was veiled. I got rid of my veils only four years ago." The 39th Sheikh of the Golden Chain, Sultan al-Awliya Sheikh `Abdullah Daghestani, referred to this saying in his encounter with Khidr, who told him, as he was pointing to the graves of some great scholars in a Muslim cemetery: "This one is three years old; that one, seven; that one, twelve."

Bayazid died in 261 H. It is said he is buried in two places, one is Damascus and the other is Bistam in Persia. The secret of the Golden Chain was passed from Bayazid al-Bistami to Abul Hassan al-Kharqani.

Abul Hassan `Ali ibn Ja`far al-Kharqani
May Allah Sanctify His Soul

"Mayest Thou deign to be sweetness and let life be bitter!
If Thou art content, what matter that men be angry?
Let everything between me and Thee be cultivated,
Between me and the worlds let all be desert!
If Thy love be assured, all is then easy,
For everything on earth is but earth."


 He was the Ghawth (Arch-Intercessor) of his time and unique in his station. He was the Qiblah (focus of attention) of his people and an Ocean of Knowledge from which saints still receive waves of light and spiritual knowledge.

He emptied himself of everything except Allah's Oneness, refusing for himself all titles and aspirations. He would not be known as a follower of any science, even a spiritual science, and he said: "I am not a rahib (hermit). I am not a zahid (ascetic). I am not a speaker. I am not a Sufi. O Allah, You are One, and I am one in Your Oneness."

Of knowledge and practice he said:

"Scholars and servants in the lower world are numerous but they don't benefit you unless you are engaged in the satisfaction of Allah's desire, and from morning to night are occupied with the deeds that Allah accepts."

About being a Sufi he said:

"The Sufi is not the one who is always carrying the prayer rug, nor the one who is wearing patched clothes, nor the one who keeps certain customs and appearances; but the Sufi is the one to whom everyone's focus is drawn, although he is hiding himself."

"The Sufi is the one who in the daylight doesn't need the sun and in the night doesn't need the moon. The essence of Sufism is absolute nonexistence that has no need of existence because there is no existence besides Allah's existence."

He was asked about Truthfulness (Sidq). He said, “Truthfulness is to speak your conscience."

Of the heart he said:

"What is the best thing? The heart which is always in Remembrance of God (dhikr Allah)."

"The best of hearts is the heart which contains nothing but the presence of Allah, Almighty and Exalted."

"Today it will have been 40 years that Allah has been looking in my heart and has seen nothing except Himself. I have had nothing in my heart nor my breast except Allah for 40 years; and while my ego is asking for cold water and a drink of milk, I have not allowed it that for 40 years in order to control myself."

"The vision with the eyes of the head doesn't bring happiness, but the vision with the eyes of the heart and the secret that Allah gives to the soul will bring out that happiness."

Of Bayazid he said:

"When Abu Yazid said, 'I want not to want' that is exactly the wanting which is real desire (irada).

He was asked, "Who is the appropriate person to speak about fana' (annihilation) and baqa' (permanence)?" He answered, "That is knowledge for the one who is as if suspended by a silk thread from the heavens to the earth and a great cyclone comes and takes all trees, houses, and mountains and throws them in the ocean until it fills the ocean. If that cyclone is unable to move the one who is hanging by the silk thread, then he is the one who can speak on fana' and baqa'."

One time Sultan Mahmoud al-Ghazi visited Abul Hassan and asked his opinion of Bayazid al-Bistami. He said, "Whoever follows Bayazid is going to be guided. And whoever saw him and felt love towards him in his heart will reach a happy ending." At that Sultan Mahmoud said, "How is that possible, when Abu Jahl saw the Prophet and he was unable to reach a happy ending but rather ended up in misery?" He answered, "It is because Abu Jahl didn't see the Prophet but he saw Muhammad bin `Abdullah. And if he saw the Messenger of Allah he would have been taken out of misery into happiness. As Allah said, "You see them looking at you but without clear vision" [7:198]. He continued with the saying already quoted, "The vision with the eyes of the head..."

Other sayings of his:

"Ask for difficulties in order for tears to appear because Allah loves those who cry," referring to the advice of the Prophet to cry much.

"In whatever way you ask Allah for anything, still the Qur'an is the best way. Don't ask Allah except through the Qur'an."

"The Inheritor of the Prophet is the one who follows his footsteps and never puts black marks in his Book of Deeds."

Abul-Hasan al-Kharqani died on Tuesday, 10th of Muharram in 425 H. (1033 CE). He was buried in Kharqan, a village of the city of Bistam in Persia. He passed on the Secret of the Golden Chain to Abu `Ali al-Fadl bin Muhammad al-Farmadhi at-Tusi (q).

 Abu `Ali al-Farmadhi at-Tusi

"O child! said Luqman the Wise, 
Do not let the rooster be more watchful than you, 
calling Allah at dawn while you are sleeping." 
He is right, he who said:
"The turtle-dove wept on her branch in the night
And I slept on--what lying, false love is mine?
If I were a true lover, never would turtle-doves overtake me.
I am the dry-eyed lover of his Lord, while animals weep!"

Ghazali, Ayyuha-l-walad.

 He is called the Knower of the Merciful and the Custodian of Divine Love. He was a scholar of the Shafi'i school of jurisprudence and a unique `arif (endowed with spiritual knowledge). He was deeply involved in both the School of the Salaf (scholars of the First and Second Centuries) and that of the Khalaf (later scholars), but he made his mark in the Science of Tasawwuf. From it he extracted some of the heavenly knowledge which is mentioned in Qur'an in reference to al-Khidr: "and We have taught him from our Heavenly Knowledge" [18:65].

Sparks of the light of jihad an-nafs (self-struggle) were opened to his heart. He was known everywhere in his time, until he became a very famous shaykh in Islamic Divine Law and theology. The most famous shaykh of his time, as-Simnani, said about him, "He was the Tongue of Khurasan and its shaykh and the master in lifting up and raising the station of his followers. His associations were like gardens full of flowers, in which knowledge flowed from his heart and took the hearts of his listeners into a state of joy and happiness." Among his teachers was al-Qushayri, the celebrated Sufi Master, and al-Ghazali al-Kabir who said about him, "He was the shaykh of his time and he had a unique way of reminding people. No one surpassed him in his eloquence, delicacy, ethics, good manners, morality, or his ways of approaching people." The son of the latter, Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, nicknamed Hujjat ul-Islam - the Proof of Islam, took much from Farmadi in his Ihya `Ulum ad-Din.

One time he said, "I entered behind my teacher, al-Qushayri, to the public bath, and from the well I took for him a bucket of water which I had filled from the well myself. When my teacher came he said, 'Who brought the water in the bucket?' I kept quiet, as I felt I had committed some disrespect. He asked a second time, 'Who brought the water?' I continued to keep quiet. He asked a third time, 'Who filled that bucket with water?' I finally said, 'I did, my teacher.' He said, 'O My son, what I received in seventy years, I passed to you with one bucket of water.' That meant that the heavenly and divine knowledge which he had struggled for seventy years to acquire he passed to my heart through one glance."

On behavior towards one's master he said: 

"If you are true in your love of your shaykh, you have to keep respect with him."

On spiritual vision he said:

"For the `arif (Knower) a time will come wherein the light of knowledge will reach him and his eyes will see the incredible Unseen."

"Whoever pretends he can hear, yet cannot hear the glorification of birds, trees and the wind, is a liar."

"The hearts of the people of Truth are open, and their hearing is open."

"Allah gives happiness to His servants when they see His Saints." This is because the Prophet said, "Whoever sees the face of a knower of God, sees me," and also, "Whoever sees me, has seen Reality." Sufi Masters have named the practice of concentrating on the face of the sheikh (tasawwur), and it is done to the end of fulfilling that state.

"Whoever looks after the actions of people will lose his way."

"Who prefers the company of the rich over the company of the poor, Allah will send him the death of the heart."

Imam Ghazali reports, "I heard that Abul Hasan al-Farmadhi said, 'the Ninety-nine Attributes of Allah will become attributes and descriptions of the seeker in the way of Allah.'"

He died in 447 H. and he was buried in the village Farmadh, a suburb of the city of Tus. He passed on the Secrets of the Golden Chain to Abu Ya`qub Yusuf ibn Ayyub ibn Yusuf ibn al-Husayn al-Hamadani.

 Abu Ya`qub Yusuf ibn Ayyab ibn Yusuf ibn al-Husayn al-Hamadani

"Think not that there are no travelers on the road,
or that those of perfect attribute leave no trace.
Just because you are not privy to the secrets,
Do you think that no one else is either?"

Rumi, Fihi ma fihi.

He was one of the rarest Knowers of God, a Pillar in the Sunnah of the Prophet and a unique saint. He was an imam (religious leader), an `alim (religious scholar), and a `arif (spiritual knower of God). He was the master of his time in raising the stations of his followers. Scholars and pious people used to flood in huge numbers into his khaniqah (retreat) in the city of Merv, in present-day Turkmenistan, to listen to him.

Born in Buzanjird near Hamadan in 440 H., he moved from Hamadan to Baghdad when he was eighteen years of age. He studied the Shafi'i school of fiqh under the supervision of the master of his time, Shaykh Ibrahim ibn `Ali ibn Yusuf al-Fairuzabadi. He kept association in Baghdad with the great scholar, Abu Ishaq ash-Shirazi, who gave him greater deference than to any of his other students although he was the youngest.

He was so brilliant a jurisprudent that he became the marja` (reference) of his time for all scholars in that field. He was known in Baghdad, the center of Islamic knowledge, in Isfahan, Bukhara, Samarqand, Khwarazm, and throughout Central Asia.

Later in his life he secluded himself and left the world behind. He became an ascetic and engaged in constant worship and mujahada (spiritual struggle). He associated with Shaykh Abdullah Ghuwayni and Shaykh Hasan Simnani, but his secret was given him by Shaykh Abu `Ali al-Farmadhi. He made progress in self-denial and contemplation until he became the Ghawth (Arch-Intercessor) of his time. He was known as the Rain of Realities and Truth and Spiritual Knowledge. He finally settled in Merv. Through him countless miraculous events occurred.

From His Supposed Miracles

He reflected the Divine attribute of Severity (al-Qahhar) with those who opposed the dissemination of spirituality. Following are two of his miraculous deeds in that respect:

One day he was holding an association in which he was enlightening the listeners with heavenly knowledge. Two literalist scholars who were present said, "Keep quiet, because you are devising innovation." He said to them, "Do not talk about matters that you do not understand. It is better for you to die than to remain." As he spoke these words they immediately fell dead.

Ibn Hajar al-Haythami records in his book Al-Fatawa al-Hadithiyya, "Abu Sa`id Abdullah ibn Abi `Asran, the Imam of the School of Shafi'i, said, 'When I began a search for religious knowledge I accompanied my friend, Ibn as-Saqa, who was a student in the Nizamiya School, and it was our custom to visit the pious. We heard that there was in Baghdad a man named Yusuf al-Hamadani who was known as al-Ghawth, and that he was able to appear whenever he liked and was able to disappear whenever he liked. So I decided to visit him along with Ibn as-Saqa and Shaykh Abdul Qadir al-Jilani, who was a young man at that time. Ibn as-Saqa said, 'When we visit Shaykh Yusuf al-Hamadani I am going to ask him a question the answer to which he will not know.' I said, 'I am also going to ask him a question and I want to see what he is going to say.' Shaykh 'Abdul Qadir al-Jilani said, 'O Allah, protect me from asking a saint like Yusuf Hamadani a question, but I will go into his presence asking for his baraka blessings and Divine Knowledge.'

'We entered his association. He veiled himself from us and we didn't see him until after one hour had passed. He looked at Ibn as-Saqa angrily and said, without having been informed of his name, 'O Ibn as-Saqa, how dare you ask me a question when your intention is to confound me?' Your question is this and your answer is this!' Then he said to Ibn Saqa, 'I am seeing the fire of kufr (unbelief) burning in your heart.' He looked at me and said, 'O `Abdallah, are you asking me a question and awaiting my answer? Your question is this and your answer is this. Let the people be sad for you because they are losing as a result of your disrespect for me.' Then he looked at Shaykh 'Abdul Qadir al-Jilani and said to him, 'Approach, my son. I am going to bless you. O `Abdul Qadir, you have satisfied Allah and His Prophet with your proper respect for me. I see you in the future sitting on the highest place in Baghdad and speaking and guiding people and saying to them that your feet are on the neck of every wali (saint). And I am seeing every wali of your time bowing to you because of your great station and honor.'"

Ibn Hajar al-Haythami continues, "`Abdul Qadir has been lifted up and all that shaykh al-Hamadani said about him came to pass. There came a time when he did say, 'My feet are on the necks of all the awliya (saints),' and he was a reference and a beacon guiding all people in his time to their destinations."

"The fate of Ibn as-Saqa was something else. He was brilliant in his knowledge of the Law of Islam. He preceded all the scholars in his time. He used to debate with the scholars of his time and overcome them, until the khalif called him to be a member of his court. One day the khalif sent him as a messenger to the King of Byzantium, who in his turn called all the priests and scholars of Christianity to debate him. Ibn as-Saqa was able to defeat all of them in debate. They were helpless to give answers in his presence. He gave them answers that made them look like mere students in his presence.

"His brilliance fascinated the King of Byzantium so that he invited him to his private family gathering. There Ibn as-Saqa's eyes fell on the daughter of the King. He immediately fell in love with her, and asked her father, the King, for her hand in marriage. She refused except on condition that he accept her religion. He did, leaving Islam and accepting the Christian religion of the princess. After his marriage he became seriously ill. They threw him out of the palace. He became a town beggar, asking everyone for food, yet no one would provide for him. Darkness had come over his face.

"One day he saw someone that had known him before. That person relates: 'I asked him, 'What happened to you?' He replied, 'There was a temptation that I fell into.' The man asked him, 'Do you remember anything from the Holy Qur'an?' He replied, 'I only remember rubbama yawaddu-l-ladheena kafaru law kanu muslimeen ('Again and again will those who disbelieve wish that they were Muslims' [15:2]).

"'He was trembling as if he was giving up his last breath. I turned him towards the Ka'aba (the West), but he kept turning towards the East. Then I turned him back towards Ka'aba, but he turned himself to the East. I turned him a third time, but he turned himself to the East. Then as his soul was passing from him, he said, 'O Allah that is the result of my disrespect to Your Arch-intercessor Yusuf al-Hamadani.'"

Imam Haythami continues: "Ibn `Asran said, 'I went to Damascus and the king there, Nuridin ash-Shaheed, put me in charge of the department of religious affairs, and I accepted. As a result, the worldly life came at me from every side: provision, sustenance, fame, money, position for the rest of my life. That is what the Arch-intercessor Yusuf al-Hamadani had predicted for me.'"

From His Sayings

Yusuf al-Hamadani's (q) aphorisms illustrate his high station among the saints. He said:

"The opening of the faculty of Spiritual Hearing in the Friends of Allah is like a Message from Reality, a Chapter in the Book of Allah, a blessing from the Knowledge of the Unseen. It is the beginning of the opening of the Heart and its unveiling -- good tidings from the Heavenly Stations! It is the dawn of understanding of Divine Meanings. This hearing is sustenance for the spirit and life for the heart. It is the Subsistence (baqa) of the Secret (sirr). Allah makes Himself Witness for the visions of His Chosen Servants, and dresses them with His blessed acts and decorates them with His Attributes.

"Of his saints, He makes one group hear through His Exalted Witnessing (shuhada at-tanzih); He makes others hear through His Unique Oneness (wahdaniyya); He makes another group of them hear through His Mercy (rahma). And He makes some hear through His Power (qudra).

"Let it be known to you, O Man, that Allah has created from the Light of His Manifestations 70,000 angels and assigned them to various stations between the Throne (`arsh) and the Chair (kursi). In the Presence of Intimacy (uns), their dress is green wool, their faces are like the full moon, they stand in His Presence in awe, fainting, drunk with His Love, running endlessly from the Throne to the Chair and back because of the emotion and the mercy which is burning in their hearts. Those are the Sufis of the Heavens and Israfil (the angel who will blow the Trumpet on the Judgement Day) is their leader and their guide, and Jibril is their president and their speaker, and al-Haqq (Allah) is their King. Allah's blessings are upon them."

This is how Yusuf al-Hamadani (q), the Shadow of God on Earth, used to describe the heavenly reality and exalted stations of the Sufis. May Allah bless his soul and sanctify him.

He died in Khorasan, between Herat and Bakshur, on the 12th of Rabi`ul-Awwal, 535 H., and was buried in Merv. Near his tomb was built a large mosque and a large school.

He passed his secret to Abul `Abbas.

 Abul `Abbas, al-Khidr

"Whoever enters the Way without a guide will take a hundred years to travel a two-day journey.  The Prophet said, 'In this Way, you have no more faithful companions than your works.'  How can these works and this earning in the way of righteousness be accomplished without a master, O father?  Can you practice the meanest profession in the world without a master's guidance?  Whoever undertakes a profession without a master becomes the laughingstock of city and town."

Rumi, Mathnavi.

Abul `Abbas is Khidr, whom Allah mentioned in the Holy Qur'an [18:65f.] as the servant of Allah who met with the Prophet Musa. He preserved and maintained the Reality of the Golden Chain until the next link in the Chain, `Abdul Khaliq, could assume his destined station.

Imam Bukhari relates in the Book of Prophets that the Prophet said, "Al-Khidr ('the Green Man') was so named because he sat on a barren white land once, after which it turned luxuriantly green with vegetation."

The important role of Khidr as the murshid (initiator) of saints may be illustrated by the importance of his role as the murshid of prophets, particularly of the Prophet Musa. Moses was a highly powerful prophet, one of the five greatest ones whom Allah sent to this world: Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, Peace and blessings be upon them. Yet despite Moses' elevated knowledge, Allah caused him to be in need of Khidr, even though Khidr was not a prophet. This is to teach us, as Allah said in the Holy Qur'an, that "Above every knower there is a greater knower" (Yusuf, 76).

The story of Moses' encounter with Khidr is related in Surat al-Kahf (65-82) and goes thus: Moses and his servant found one of Allah's servants whom Allah had honored uniquely and had taught knowledge from His Own Presence. Moses said to him, "I would like to accompany you." He answered him: "You cannot bear to accompany me." Moses was surprised and insisted he was able to do so. Khidr said: "You cannot, but if you do, do not ask about what I am doing no matter what you see me do. On that condition alone you may follow; but if you wish to ask questions, don't follow me." This meant that Khidr was going to do something that Moses would not understand, although he was the Messenger of a great religion. He was in need of Khidr to teach him something.

They took a boat and crossed the Tiberias River in Palestine. When they had reached the middle of the river, Khidr made a hole in the boat in order for it to sink. Moses was unable to keep silent, saying: "Why are you doing this childish act? Those people gave you the boat, are you now scuttling it?" Khidr replied: "Did I not tell you you would be unable to keep company with me?" Moses had not yet understood, even though he was a prophet and could read hearts, that there was something taking place that he did not know. They continued and found a young boy. As soon as they saw him, Khidr killed him. Moses said: "What are you doing? You sank a boat, and now you kill a child? This is against all laws!" Again Khidr said: "Did I not tell you that you could not keep company with me? The third time you ask me, we will part ways." Then they reached a city where they asked for food. No one gave them any food, and they threw them out. On their way, they found a wall on the verge of collapse. Khidr rebuilt that wall and made it straight. Moses asked: "Why are you doing this? No one accepted us as their guests in this city, and yet you are building their wall for them?" Khidr said: "This is the point where we separate, for you did not understand the wisdom of what I am doing."

"O Moses, what we do is what Allah tells us to do. First I caused this boat to sink because there is a tyrant who is seizing every boat from the poor people on this side of the city. In order for these people not to lose their boat, I made it sink. That tyrant is going to die tomorrow, and tomorrow they can retrieve their boat and use it safely. I killed the child because Allah did not want that child to cause his parents, who believe in you, to leave and run away from your religion. Allah will give them better children than him. I built the wall which belonged to a man who was in life very generous to the poor. When he passed away, he left a treasure buried under the wall for his two orphans. Were that wall to come down, people would see the treasure and take it. I restored it in order for the two children to receive their treasure later. You did not understand God's wisdom."

That was Moses who, with the entire honor bestowed on him by God, found himself ignorant before Khidr. How can we, who know so little in comparison to Moses, consider ourselves knowledgeable if Moses himself, with all his knowledge in the Divine Presence, was unable to understand certain things? This is a lesson in humility for human beings, and particularly for scholars and religious leaders: "Your knowledge is not worth mentioning. There are others more and highly more knowledgeable than you. As high or deep as you travel into knowledge, there is deeper depth and higher height than where you stand."

That is why, when someone sits to give advice, he must sit with complete humbleness and complete respect for the listener. He cannot consider himself higher than them; otherwise that light will never reach their hearts. That is also why each is in need of a guide, as was shown by the Guide of guides himself, the Prophet, when he took Jibril as a guide for Revelation, and when he took a guide in traveling to Madina.

This is how Ibn `Arabi (q) in Fusus  al-hikam explains the three acts of Khidr witnessed by Musa:

"Moses was tested 'by many ordeals' [20:41] the first of which was the murder of the Egyptian [28:14-15], an act which he committed by Divine impulsion and with the approbation of God deep inside him, without however, his perceiving it; nevertheless he felt no affliction in his soul for having killed the Egyptian, although he himself was not acquitted until he had received a Divine revelation on the subject. For all prophets are interiorly preserved from sin without their being conscious of it, even before they are warned by inspiration.

"It is for that reason that al-Khidr showed him the putting to death of the boy, an action for which Moses reproached him, without remembering his murder of the Egyptian, upon which al-Khidr said to him: 'I have not done it of my own initiative,' recalling thus to Moses the state in which he, the latter, found himself when he did not yet know that he was essentially preserved from all action contrary to the Divine Order.

"He showed him also the perforation of the boat, apparently made to destroy the people, but which has, however, the hidden sense of saving them from the hand of a 'violent man.' He showed this to him as an analogy to the ark which hid Moses when he was thrown into the Nile; according to appearances, this act was equally to destroy him, but according to the hidden sense, it was to save him. Again his mother had done that for fear of the 'violent man,' in this case Pharaoh, so that he would not cruelly kill the child...

"Moses arrived then at Madyan, there met the two girls and for them drew water from the well, without asking from them a salary. Then he 'withdrew to the shade,' that is to say to the Divine shadow, and said: 'O my Lord, I am poor with regard to the blessings Thou bestowest on Me'; he attributed, then, to God alone the essence of the good that he did and qualified himself as poor (faqir) towards God. It was for that reason that al-Khidr reconstructed before him the crumbling wall without asking a salary for his work, for which Moses reprimanded him, until Khidr reminded him of his action of drawing water without asking for reward, and other things too, of which there is no mention in the Koran; so that the Messenger of God -- may God bless him and give him Peace! -- regretted that Moses did not keep quiet and did not remain with al-Khidr, so that God could tell him more of their actions."

Of Khidr's sayings to Sahl at-Tustari (q) according to Ibn `Arabi:

"Allah created the Light of Muhammad from His Light... This Light stayed before Allah for 100,000 years. Allah directed His Gaze upon it 70,000 times every day and night, adding to it a new light from His Light every time. Then, from that Light, He created all creations."

When the Prophet left this world and condolence came, they heard a voice from the corner of the house saying, "Peace, God's mercy and blessings be upon you, members of the Family of the Prophet!" `Ali (r) then asked if they knew who this was, and he said it was Khidr. Bayhaqi transmitted it in Dala'il an-Nubuwwa.

Ten Principal Sufi Thoughts


There are ten principal Sufi thoughts, which comprise all the important subjects with which the inner life of man is concerned.  I have provided these thoughts, and among these thoughts I have included my comments to elucidate that these thoughts do not lead to The Truth.


There is One God, the Eternal, the Only Being; none exists save He.

The God of the Sufi is the God of every creed, and the God of all. Names make no difference to him. Allah, God, Gott, Dieu, Brahma, or Bhagwan, all these names and more are the names of his God; and yet to him God is beyond the limitation of name. He sees his God in the sun, in the fire, in the idol which diverse sects worship; and he recognizes Him in all the forms of the universe, yet knowing Him to be beyond all form: God in all, and all in God, He being the Seen and the Unseen, the Only Being. God to the Sufi is not only a religious belief, but also the highest ideal the human mind can conceive. (This is totally false.  There is one God but God is above His creation and is not in it.  This is pantheism, which is not what Christ taught, not what the Old Testament taught, and also, not what Mohammed taught in the Koran.)

The Sufi, forgetting the self and aiming at the attainment of the divine ideal, walks constantly all through life in the path of love and light. In God the Sufi sees the perfection of all that is in the reach of man's perception and yet he knows Him to be above human reach. He looks to Him as the lover to his beloved and takes all things in life as coming from Him, with perfect resignation. The sacred name of God is to him as medicine to the patient. The divine thought is the compass by which he steers the ship to the shores of immortality. The God-ideal is to a Sufi as a lift by which he raises himself to the eternal goal, the attainment of which is the only purpose of his life.  (The Sufi sees God in everything, but we know God is not in everything.  The world is not God.  It is true that God created the world and all that is in it; however God is not in his creation.  A man may create a work of art, and even though his thought process help create that work of art, the man is not in the art.  God is in the world but not of it, just as those in Christ are in the world but not of it.  All things in life do not come from God.  For one, evil does not come from God, it comes from man’s sin.  God did not create sin.)


There is One Master, the Guiding Spirit of all Souls, Who constantly leads His followers towards the light.

The Sufi understands that although God is the source of all knowledge, inspiration, and guidance, yet man is the medium through which God chooses to impart His knowledge to the world. He imparts it through one who is a man in the eyes of the world, but God in his consciousness. It is the mature soul that draws blessings from the heavens, and God speaks through that soul. (As we know, God speaks through the Word of God found in the Bible and in Jesus.  Man receives intimations of God via the world around him, but does only receive the Word of God, His and Christ’s teaching, through the Bible.) Although the tongue of God is busy speaking through all things, yet in order to speak to the deaf ears of many among us, it is necessary for Him to speak through the lips of man. He has done this all through the history of man, every great teacher of the past having been this Guiding Spirit living the life of God in human guise. (This is not correct.  It does not follow that God inspired all the teachers of the past.  One teacher, who was more than a teacher, was God incarnate as he dwelled on earth in and of the human body.  This man was Christ.)  The Sufi believes (erroneously) their human guise consists of various coats worn by the same person, who appeared to be different in each. Shiva, Buddha, Rama, Krishna on the one side, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed on the other; and many more, known or unknown to history, always one and the same person. (The Buddha, Rama, Krishna, etc, did not teach what Jesus taught.  Therefore, all these other teachers outside of the realm of Judaism—Christ never disavowed His Jewish heritage—cannot be one with Jesus.  Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law.  Buddha did not even teach that a God existed.  What the Sufi believes is, therefore not founded on truth.  In fact, Buddha never taught that God existed!)

Those who saw the person and knew Him recognized Him in whatever form or guise; those who could only see the coat went astray. To the Sufi therefore there is only one Teacher, however differently He may be named at different periods of history, and He comes constantly to awaken humanity from the slumber of this life of illusion, and to guide man onwards towards divine perfection. As the Sufi progresses in this view he recognizes his Master, not only in the holy ones, but in the wise, in the foolish, in the saint and in the sinner, and has never allowed the Master who is One alone, and the only One who can be and who ever will be, to disappear from his sight.  (Jesus said that we are to have no master, no teacher, save God alone.  He taught that if a person would come to Him, not to another, He would lead that person to truth by opening up the Holy Spirit to this person.   How then can a Sufi recognize his Master in a sinner or a saint, in a wise man and/or in a foolish man?  If the Sufi means that God created these individuals, that it true.  However, is the Master recognizable in a fool who does not regard God?  Or the sinner who is averse to God and denies Christ?  The Sufi also denies the teachings of Jesus in their entirety.  Should a person look to one who denies much of what Christ taught as being any kind of Master a wise man would want to learn at the feet of?  I should think not.  The Sufi is blathering nonsense to an unsuspecting public.  Muslims and Christians should banish this type of falderal from their minds.  This teaching leads down the wrong path, the path of disillusionment.  Jesus came so the blind could see.  The Sufi teaching obfuscates the eyes of those who wish to see.  I am writing from experience.  As I wrote earlier, at one time I thought Sufi philosophy to be true.  It, however, is not true.  I repeat that it is not true.  Go to Christ to find the truth, and His teaching will set you free from the spiritual nonsense the Sufis espouse.)

The Persian word for Master is Murshid. The Sufi recognizes the Murshid in all beings of the world, and is ready to learn from young and old, educated and uneducated, rich and poor, without questioning from whom he learns. (Is this wise?  Ask yourself this.  What can a person learn from an atheist concerning truth?  What can a person learn from a thief?  The Sufi is saying that we are to go to anyone and learn from them?  Learn what?  Think about it.  If a person desires to know the truth, would not that person go to the embodiment of truth?  Who is that embodiment?  Is it not the Christ?  He claimed to be the Truth and no one to my knowledge has been able to refute that claim.  Do you know of anyone who can refute the teaching of Christ?  I do not mean make derogatory claims against Him.  I mean, can anyone unbiasedly claim that Christ was not what He claimed to be.  I have read extensively concerning this because I needed to know.  No one has made a credible claim to refute what Christ taught.  No one.  I repeat…No one.) Then he begins to see the light of Risalat, the torch of truth which shines before him in every being and thing in the universe. Thus he sees Rasul, his Divine Message Bearer, a living identity before him. Thus the Sufi sees the vision of God, the worshipped deity, in His immanence, manifest in nature, and life now becomes for him a perfect revelation both within and without.

It is often for no other reason than clinging to the personality of their particular teacher, claiming for him superiority over other teachers, and degrading a teacher held in the same esteem by others, that people have separated themselves from one another, and caused most of the wars and factions and contentions which history records among the children of God.  (This is not true.  Christ never claimed superiority over another.  He claimed to be Truth.  There is no superiority concerning truth.  In Christ there is no clinging to a person. What is superior to Truth? Truth is truth.  Christ is Truth.  It follows that those who teach one to follow another way are teaching what is not Truth.  It is the Sufi who denies the truth in Christ.  What claim can the Sufi make to espouse what is truth when they deny the message of Christ, that He is God, that He resurrected in bodily form, that He died on the Cross?  The Sufi is espousing a philosophy, remember, that is based on the teachings of Plotinus, which is pantheism.) 

What the Spirit of Guidance is can be further explained as follows: as in man there is a faculty for art, music, poetry and science, so in him is the faculty or spirit of guidance; it is better to call it spirit because it is the supreme faculty from which all the others originate. As we see that in every person there is some artistic faculty, but not everyone is an artist, as everyone can hum a tune but only one in a thousand is a musician, so every person possesses this faculty in some form and to a limited degree; but the spirit of guidance is found among few indeed of the human race.

A Sanskrit poet says, 'Jewels are stones, but cannot be found everywhere; the sandal tree is a tree, but does not grow in every forest; as there are many elephants, but only one king elephant, so there are human beings all over the world, but the real human being is rarely to be found.'

When we arise above faculty and consider the spirit of guidance, we shall find that it is consummated in the Bodhisattva, the spiritual teacher or divine messenger. (The bodhisattva is a mind-hero in Buddhism, one who has conquered the self, who has attained Nirvana.  The bodhisattva does not recognize a God; therefore he does not claim to be a divine messenger.  The bodhisattva does not claim to teach anything; therefore he is not a teacher. This Sufi is relaying falsehood here.)  There is a saying that the reformer is the child of civilization, but the prophet is its father. This spirit has always existed, and must always exist; and in this way from time to time the message of God has been given.  (This also is not true.  It is true that the Holy Spirit has no beginning and no end; however, the Holy Spirit was introduced to man at the behest of Christ.)


There is One Holy Book, the sacred manuscript of nature, the only scripture which can enlighten the reader.  (This is also not true.  Although one can learn somewhat of what God is like by way of nature, one cannot learn the character of God by way of nature.  Knowledge of God comes through the Word of God found in the Bible.  One would not know that God is love merely by reading nature.)

Most people consider as sacred scriptures only certain books or scrolls written by the hand of man, and carefully preserved as holy, to be handed down to posterity as divine revelation. Men have fought and disputed over the authenticity of these books, have refused to accept any other book of similar character, and, clinging thus to the book and losing the sense of it, have formed diverse sects. The Sufi has in all ages respected all such books, and has traced in the Vedanta, Zendavesta, Kabah, Bible, Qur'an, and all other sacred scriptures the same truth which he reads in the incorruptible manuscript of nature, the only Holy Book, the perfect and living model that teaches the inner law of life: all scriptures before nature's manuscript are as little pools of water before the ocean. (This again is false.  The manuscript of nature is corrupt.  Death is everywhere to be seen.  Killing is the norm—beasts feed on other beasts.  There is no compassion in nature.  How can man learn compassion through nature alone?)

To the eye of the seer every leaf of the tree is a page of the holy book that contains divine revelation, and he is inspired every moment of his life by constantly reading and understanding the holy script of nature.

When man writes, he inscribes characters upon rock, leaf, paper, wood or steel; when God writes, the characters He writes are living creatures.  (Can we honestly learn love, peace, joy, wisdom by reading the actions of a lion, a bird, a dog, a cat, or even the actions of some human beings?  We cannot, can we?  What do we learn from a lion that is coincident to God’s Love and Wisdom or Sovereignty?  Think about this.  Think!)

It is when the eye of the soul is opened and the sight is keen that the Sufi can read the divine law in the manuscript of nature; and that which the teachers of humanity have taught to their followers was derived by them from the same source; they expressed what little it is possible to express in words, and so they preserved the inner truth when they themselves were no longer there to reveal it. (It is true that man can read the Divine Law through nature.  However, Christ is the fulfillment of that Law.  We can not come to Christ by reading nature.  Christ and those in Christ are above nature.  We are in the world but not of it.  Does this not imply that we no longer belong to nature?)


There is One Religion, the unswerving progress in the right direction towards the ideal, which fulfills the life's purpose of every soul. (This in syncretism, which is also what Bahais believe.)  There can only be one religion because there is only one God.  Jesus claimed deity.  Can there be any other religion than what Jesus espoused?  Jesus stated to follow Him because He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  Any faith claim that denies the essence of what Christ taught denies God, and is not religion, a system, if you will, that will bring us back to our Creator.  Sufis claim to point one in the direction of God, yet pay short shrift to what Jesus claimed concerning Himself.  There is no point in following a Sufi to arrive at God because a Sufi who denies Christ’s teaching denies God.  Make no mistake—Sufis as a whole deny the claims of Christ.)

Religion in the Sanskrit language is termed Dharma, which means duty. The duty of every individual is religion. (This is not true.  The duty of every individual is to know himself.  This knowledge will then direct him to God.  One need not be religious to come to Christ.  The man who was crucified with Jesus and recognized him for who he was, the Son of God, was accepted by Christ without having known any religiosity whatsoever.  What this Sufi is saying is not what is true.)'Every soul is born for a certain purpose, and the light of that purpose is kindled in his soul', says Sa'adi. This explains why the Sufi in his tolerance allows every one to have his own path, and does not compare the principles of others with his own, but allows freedom of thought to everyone, since he himself is a freethinker. (One may be a freethinker, but being such does not necessarily lead one to the truth.  Hitler was a free thinker.  So was Nero.  Freedom of thought can lead to anarchy, severe hatred and despotism.  Thought must be directed to a higher purpose, to one path that leads to the epitome of truth.  There can be only one path to Truth.  Sorry to say, this path is not to be found in the Sufi philosophy.  Philosophy in itself, also does not necessarily lead one to the Truth.  Philosophy without Christ lighting the way is foolosophy.)

Religion, in the conception of a Sufi, is the path that leads man towards the attainment of his ideal, worldly as well as heavenly. Sin and virtue, right and wrong, good and bad are not the same in the case of every individual; they are according to his grade of evolution and state of life.  (This is stupidity.  Right and wrong are not relative constructs.  If they were, one would not know what is right and what is wrong.  This statement, as I have written, is stupidity.) Therefore the Sufi concerns himself little with the name of the religion or the place of worship. All places are sacred enough for his worship, and all religions convey to him the religion of his soul. 'I saw Thee in the sacred Ka'ba and in the temple of the idol also Thee I saw.'  (If one can see truth in an idol, which leads one away from truth, one is seeing nothing but, again, stupidity.  Sufis attempt to twist words to make a person believe that what he/she is saying has plausibility.  I have yet to know of a Sufi who could mince words to one in Christ and get away with it.  The Holy Spirit is with one in Christ.  The Holy Spirit teaches the truth.  The Sufi lacks the Holy Spirit because, as I have repeated affirmed, and the Sufi cannot deny this, The Sufi does not accept the complete message of Christ.) 




There is One Law, the law of reciprocity, which can be observed by a selfless conscience, together with a sense of awakened justice.  (There is more than this one law.  The law of reciprocity is that of the law of Karma, which states that what is done to a person will be done in like measure (or more) to the perpetrator of the act.  Christ threw this law out the window with his teaching.  What did Christ teach?  He taught that if someone should strike you a blow, not to return it, and forgive that someone for doing this act.  His teaching, therefore, requires that one live above the law of karma or the law of reciprocity.  The Sufi does not know this, for how could it be said that there is only the law of reciprocity if the Sufi did know this.  The fulfillment of the law in Christ supersedes all other laws.  Those in Christ do not persecute, do not retaliate for a harm suffered.  There is no need to do so.  God deals out justice to the man in Christ who suffers an injury from anyone.  And the man in Christ beseeches his God not to harm the perpetrator of injustice towards him.)

Man spends his life in the pursuit of all that seems to him to be profitable for himself, and when so absorbed in self-interest in time he even loses touch with his own real interest. Man has made laws to suit him, but they are laws by which he can get the better of another. It is this that he calls justice, and it is only that which is done to him by another that he calls injustice. A peaceful and harmonious life with his fellow-men cannot be led until the sense of justice has been awakened in him by a selfless conscience. As the judicial authorities of the world intervene between two persons who are at variance, knowing that they have a right to intervene when the two parties in dispute are blinded by personal interest, so the Almighty Power intervenes in all disputes however small or great.

It is the law of reciprocity which saves man from being exposed to the higher powers, (This is debatable.  What does this Sufi mean by this law of reciprocity?  If there is an injustice committed between two men, or even between nations, God will exact just justice.  There is no escape from justice.) as a considerate man has less chance of being brought before the court. The sense of justice is awakened in a perfectly sober mind; that is, one that is free from the intoxication of youth, strength, power, possession, command, birth, or rank. It seems a net profit when one does not give but takes, or when one gives less and takes more; but in either case there is really a greater loss than profit; for every such profit spreads a cover over the sense of justice within, and when many such covers have veiled the sight, man becomes blind even to his own profit. It is like standing in one's own light. 'Blind here remains blind in the hereafter.'

Although the different religions, in teaching man how to act harmoniously and peacefully with his fellow-men, have given out different laws, they all meet in this one truth: do unto others as thou wouldst they should do unto thee. (This is a Christian concept.  This is not a concept found in Islam, or I may add, in Buddhism.  In Islam the concept is do unto others what others do unto you.  In Buddhism the concept is, since there is not a self to do harm to then it is foolhardy to attempt to exact punishment or blessing onto another.  Who punishes or blesses what, if there is no self to act upon?   So, this Sufi is attempting to state that all religions adhere to the basic teaching of Christ…but they do not.  Therefore, what this Sufi is stating is not the truth.) The Sufi, in taking a favor from another, enhances its value, and in accepting what another does to him he makes allowance.


There is One Brotherhood, the human brotherhood which unites the children of earth indiscriminately in the Brotherhood of God. (This is also not a true statement.  None of the religions of the world teach this.  Christ did not teach this, that there is one brotherhood and all men belong to that one brotherhood.  It is true that all men have been created by God; however, all men do not accept God.  For example, there are atheists, there are agnostics.  They do not accept God as a viable entity by which they were created.   God does not indiscriminately accept all men into His Kingdom.  He can only accept those who accept him.  God does discriminate, but it is because of man’s discrimination concerning the non-acceptance of truth.  Anyone who does not accept Christ as the Son of God, and does not accept what He taught concerning Himself, discriminates against himself.  There is no free ticket into the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Peace, Joy, and divine brotherhood. 

The Sufi understands that the one life emanating from the inner Being is manifested on the surface as the life of variety (this is pantheism, which is false doctrine, as was explained earlier in this paper); and in this world of variety man is the finest manifestation, for he can realize in his evolution the oneness of the inner being even in the external existence of variety.  But he evolves to this ideal, which is the only purpose of his coming on earth, by uniting himself with another.

Man unites with others in the family tie, which is the first step in his evolution, and yet families in the past have fought with each other, and have taken vengeance upon one another for generations, each considering his cause to be the only true and righteous one. Today man shows his evolution in uniting with his neighbors and fellow-citizens, and even developing within himself the spirit of patriotism for his nation. He is greater in this respect than those in the past; and yet men so united nationally have caused the catastrophe of the modern wars, which will be regarded by the coming generations in the same light in which we now regard the family feuds of the past.

There are racial bonds which widen the circle of unity still more, but it has always happened that one race has looked down on the other. (Sufis also are smug in that they believe that what they know is the truth, when in fact, they do not know the truth.  Christians have also been accused of this by Sufis; however, Christians have factual evidence based on historical fact which allows them to make truth claims.  Sufis do not have this.  Sufis cannot point to historical facts to support their claims to knowing Truth.  Their truth claims are based on subjectivity.  Christian’s truth claims are based on objective evidence and inner wisdom.)

The religious bond shows a still higher ideal. But it has caused diverse sects, which have opposed and despised each other for thousands of years, and have caused endless splits and divisions among men. The germ of separation exists even in such a wide scope for brotherhood, and however widespread the brotherhood may be, it cannot be a perfect one as long as it separates man from man.  (Why can it not be?  Not all men will accept the Truth.  Does this not create ipso facto separation between men?  The Sufi is making a categorical imperative that cannot be substantiated.  Did I not indicate that Sufis attempt to hoodwink people into believing that they know the truth, when they do not?  This Sufi is making truth claims that he is not qualified to make.  And why is this?  Sufis do not accept the truth claims of Christ and what He said about himself.  They do not believe that Christ died on the Cross.  They do not believe that He resurrected bodily.  The claim to accept Christ; but in fact, they do not accept him.  They make him to be a liar because Christ said he would resurrect bodily; but the Sufi states that Jesus did not resurrect bodily.)

The Sufi, realizing this, frees himself from national, racial, and religious boundaries, uniting himself in the human brotherhood, which is devoid of the differences and distinctions of class, caste, creed, race, nation, or religion, and unites mankind in the universal brotherhood.  (The Sufi cannot unite man into a universal brotherhood based on Truth.  The Sufi does not accept the Truth.  The Sufi accepts their version of Truth, but not the truth.  Oh, Sufis teach forms of truth, but if you would take the time to analyze what they teach, you would see that Sufis subtract from and add to what Christ taught.  Their central message is the same message of Christ; however, what they teach is not what Christ taught in its entirety.  This is what appeals to many Christians.  Many Christians sense the beat of Christ in the Sufi message, but they fail to hear the words of the Sufi and fail to make distinctions between what they feel and what they hear coming from the mouth of the Sufi.  Many Christians do not know that Sufis make Christ to be a liar; they do not see the subterfuge of the message of the Sufi.  There is no compatibility between the Sufi message in its entirety and the Christian message in its entirety.  The Sufi message leads one away from Christ.  Christ was God incarnate.  If the Sufi message leads one away from Christ, and it does, that message leads one away from God.  Anything that leads one away from God cannot be from God.  Therefore, the message of the Sufi is not of God.  This is simple logic, yet so hard to see.  Do not be so blind that you cannot see what the Sufi teaches.  The blind leading the blind, will they not all fall into the pit?)


There is One Moral, the love which springs forth from self-denial and blooms in deeds of beneficence.

There are moral principles taught to mankind by various teachers, by many traditions, one differing from the other, which are like separate drops coming out of the fountain. But when we look at the stream, we find there is but one stream, although it turns into several drops on falling. There are many moral principles, just as many drops fall from one fountain; but there is one stream that is at the source of all, and that is love. It is love that gives birth to hope, patience, endurance, forgiveness, tolerance, and to all moral principles. (This is not correct.  Faith gives birth to hope, patience, endurance, forgiveness, tolerance, and to all moral principles.  Love is included in faith and is paramount to faith; however, Love does not give birth to hope, or patience, or endurance, or tolerance.  Faith in a power greater than self gives birth to hope, love, patience, endurance, and to all moral principles.  God is the source of love.  Faith in God actuates the latent love in the heart of man.  It is faith in God that one should point to as the source of all moral principles.  Love is the supreme product of faith in God.  This is why St. Paul emphasized love as greater than the faith and hope.  Love is the product of faith and hope; but, without faith love cannot spring forth.)  All deeds of kindness and beneficence take root in the soil of the loving heart. Generosities, charity, adaptability, an accommodating nature, even renunciation, are the offspring of love alone. (Not so.  Generosity, adaptability, renunciation, and charity are the offspring of faith, hope, and love.  This Sufi has not thought this through.) The great, rare and chosen beings (The Sufi here is stating that many teachers have espoused love, which is true.  He does not say, however, that there is only one being who was God incarnate, this being Jesus; and only one being who actually showed the human race the depth of God’s love, which is also Jesus.) who for ages have been looked up to as ideal in the world, are the possessors of hearts kindled with love. All evil and sin come from the lack of love.

People call love blind, but love in reality is the light of the sight. The eye can only see the surface; love can see much deeper. All ignorance is the lack of love. (This is not true.  This Sufi is using another categorical imperative here.  There can be people who are ignorant yet abound in love.  Lack of love does not cause all ignorance.) As fire when not kindled gives only smoke, but when kindled, the illuminating flame springs forth, so it is with love; it is blind when undeveloped, but, when its fire is kindled, the flame that lights the path of the traveler from mortality to everlasting life springs forth; the secrets of earth and heaven are revealed to the possessor of the loving heart, the lover has gained mastery over himself and others, and he not only communes with God but unites with Him.  (This is also false.  God is always above and separate from his creation.  Being one with God should not be misunderstood as to being united with Him. )

"Hail to thee, then, O love, sweet madness! Thou who healest all our infirmities! Who art the physician of our pride and self conceit! Who art our Plato and our Galen!” says Rumi.   (Love does not heal all are infirmities, but it does allow us to abide with them vanguishingly.)


There is One Object of Praise, the beauty which uplifts the heart of its worshippers through all aspects from the seen to the unseen.

It is said in the Hadith, 'God is beautiful, and He loves beauty.' This expresses the truth that man, who inherits the Spirit of God, has beauty in him and loves beauty, although that which is beautiful to one is not beautiful to another. Man cultivates the sense of beauty as he evolves, and prefers the higher aspect of beauty to the lower. But when he has observed the highest vision of beauty in the Unseen by a gradual evolution from praising the beauty in the seen world, then the entire existence becomes to him one single vision of beauty.

Man has worshipped God, beholding the beauty of sun, moon, stars, and planets; he has worshipped God in plants, in animals; he has recognized God in the beautiful merits of man, and he has with his perfect view of beauty found the source of all beauty in the Unseen, from whence all this springs, and in Whom all is merged. (This is a false statement.  God is not merged in the world around us.  He is not in his creation in the sense that when one seas a beautiful landscape one cannot say, in truth, “That is God.”)

The Sufi, realizing this, worships beauty in all its aspects, and sees the face of the Beloved in all that is seen, and the Beloved's spirit in the Unseen. So wherever he looks his ideal of worship is before him. 'Everywhere I look, I see Thy winning face; everywhere I go, I arrive at Thy dwelling-place.'  (One should not worship beauty.  Beauty is created by God, as is a tree.  We are not to worship beauty any more than we are to worship trees.  God is beyond what is beautiful.  When one attempts to worship beauty, one is not worshipping God.  The Sufi is wrong to worship beauty, just as wrong as if he were to worship the Sun, the moon, or a lake.)


There is One Truth, the true knowledge of our being, within and without, which is the essence of all wisdom.

Hazrat All says, 'Know thyself, and thou shalt know God.' It is the knowledge of self which blooms into the knowledge of God. (This is not in accordance with what Sufis teach.  The Sufi teaches that it is desirable to reach a state of Fana-al-fana, which is a form of knowing in which the self is realized as not-self, which in turn makes one, as the Buddhist would say, “Blown out.”  According to the Sufi one is subsumed into God and nothing of a mental construct of self remains.  This Sufi is refuting what Sufis actually teach.  There can be no self-knowledge when the self, in essence, according to Sufi philosophy, is not individualized.)  Self-knowledge answers such problems as: whence have I come? Did I exist before I became conscious of my present existence? If I existed, as what did I exist? As an individual such as I now am, or as a multitude, or as an insect, bird, animal, spirit, jinn, or angel? What happens at death, the change to which every creature is subject? Why do I tarry here awhile? What purposes have I to accomplish here? What is my duty in life? In what does my happiness consist, and what is it that makes my life miserable? Those whose hearts have been kindled by the light from above, begin to ponder such questions but those whose souls are already illumined by the knowledge of the self understand them. (The Sufi should be referring to Christ, but he (they) does not.  There is no “they” who impart the truth about man, about life, about God.  Only one man did this, Jesus Christ.  He was (and is) more than man.  In hypostatic union he is God.)It is they who give to individuals or to the multitudes the benefit of their knowledge, so that even men whose hearts are not yet kindled, and whose souls are not illuminated, may be able to walk on the right path that leads to perfection. (The Sufi (s) believes that many men have been able to lead man to perfection.  This is not true.  Men cannot lead men to perfection because all men are and ever will be imperfect unless they claim to deity and can prove that deity.  Only that person should be followed as one knowing truth.  Perfection is of God….Christ claimed deity and proved His divinity by the works he performed while he was on earth.  May I ask, “What works have the Sufi’s performed that can be objectified?”  If they publicly performed miracles, would not these miracles have been bruited around the world?  Is there any objective, historically verifiable evidence that even one Sufi has done what Christ has done?  I have read of none.  I have heard of none.  If any Sufi were as was Christ while He lived among us in the flesh, would this Sufi not have shown himself so that humanity would be able to see this Sufi God-man?  A philosophy such as Sufism is difficult to fathom for many.  This is not proof that the words and the teaching are from God and in following this teaching one will come to God.  Remember what Christ said, “Let the children come to me.”  Children need not study and practice philosophy to come to, and recognize, the Truth.  Christ did not say that we are to come to a philosophy and system, a method.  He said, “Let the children come to me.”  Come to Me!  To Christ and none other.)

This is why people are taught in various languages, in various forms of worship, in various tenets in different parts of the world. It is one and the same truth; it is only seen in diverse aspects appropriate to the people and the time. It is only those who do not understand this who can mock at the faith of another, condemning to hell or destruction those who do not consider their faith to be the only true faith.  (This is entirely false.  Logically there is only one truth.  There is only one path to that Truth.  There can be only one person who can teach that one truth, and that person is the one who came from that truth.  These Sufis do not claim to have come from God.  They falsely claim that one can be absorbed into God.  These Sufis do not claim that they came from and are going back to God.  Only Jesus has claimed this.  Why do not the Sufis want to know the truth of Christ’s claim?  Do they desire to know the Truth, or do they wish only to teach what they think is the Truth?  I have studied Sufism, Bahai, Islam, Buddhism, Toa, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, and Sikhism.  I know what these ‘isms’ teach.  Not one religious leader in any of these ‘faiths’ claimed to have been one with God before the world was, came to earth, and was going to return to God.  Only Jesus made such a claim.  His life and works justified that claim.  Only Jesus resurrected after he was killed on a cross.  No other can make such a claim.  Only Jesus is Truth.)

The Sufi recognizes the knowledge of self as the essence of all religions; he traces it in every religion, he sees the same truth in each, and therefore he regards all as one. (The Sufi cannot see the same Truth that Jesus espoused in viewing Islam or Buddhism.  The teachings are not the same. It is true, the goal of various religions appear to be the same—to come to God.  There is only one Truth, which is true.  If there is only one Truth, how is it possible to arrive at this one truth while believing in different teachings?  It is not possible, not even probable.  Jesus said that He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  He did not say that He was a way, a truth, and a life.  The article “the” is exclusionary.)  Hence he can realize 'the saying of Jesus, 'I and my Father are one.' (Jesus did not say that you or I and the Father are one, did He?  This Sufi is not stating correctly what Jesus said His followers would become.  A disciple would be like his teacher, would not be one with Him, but would be like Him.  Jesus did say that his disciple would have Jesus dwelling within Him and God would be in the disciple.  Jesus did not say we could or would become God or become Jesus.  Being one with Jesus and one with God is should be interpreted as a relational reference, not an inclusionary reference. Here again, the Sufi does not understand the gist of Christ’s teaching. ) The difference between creature and Creator remains on his lips, not in his soul. This is what is meant by union with God. It is in reality the dissolving of the false self in the knowledge of the true self, which is divine, eternal, and all-pervading. 'He who attains union with God, his very self must lose,' said Amir. (Here again, there is no dissolving of the false self in the knowledge of the true self.  Man does not dissolve into God, into Truth.  He is always separate from God.  The man cannot become God.  If man could become God, Jesus would have taught this since only Jesus claimed and proved through His life’s work and teaching that He was the Son of God.  Even Jesus prayed to the Father.  For Jesus not to be a person distinct from the Father, He would not have prayed many times to the Father.  Jesus never dissolved into the Father, nor did the Father dissolve into the Son.  The Sufi would know this if only he would study the Bible and put his “false” self behind him.  A false self teaches a false truth.  This is why Jesus said that His true disciples would know his voice…His sheep will not follow the words of one who is not of the fold.  The sheep, so to speak, know Christ’s voice.  The Sufi voice is not of Christ.)


There is One Path, the annihilation of the false ego in the real, which raises the mortal to immortality, in which resides all perfection.  (Again, there is no annihilation of the false ego, the individual.  When one sees this truth, then all of what Sufism teaches can be seen as it is, empty falderal.)

'I passed away into nothingness--I vanished; and lo! I was all living.' All who have realized the secret of life understand that life is one, but that it exists in two aspects. First as immortal, all-pervading and silent; and secondly as mortal, active, and manifest in variety. The soul being of the first aspect becomes deluded, helpless, and captive by experiencing life in contact with the mind and body, which is of the next aspect. The gratification of the desires of the body and the fancies of the mind do not suffice for the purpose of the soul, which is undoubtedly to experience its own phenomena in the seen and the unseen, though its inclination is to be itself and not anything else. When delusion makes it feel that it is helpless, mortal and captive, it finds itself out of place. This is the tragedy of life, which keeps the strong and the weak, the rich and poor, all dissatisfied, constantly looking for something they do not know. The Sufi, realizing this, takes the path of annihilation (Think a moment.  Why would one want to annihilate his individuality in order to not become captive to his mind?  Would it not be better to come to one who can attenuate the anxiety of the mind and still provide for one’s individuality?  Christ never taught annihilation; however, He did teach the way to Peace.  Christ was-and is-the personification of Wisdom.  It is not wise to annihilate the ego to learn of truth.  It is not necessary, and the attempt is foolish—it can lead to insanity.) , and, by the guidance of a teacher on the path, finds at the end of this journey that the destination was himself. As Iqbzl says:

I wandered in the pursuit of my own self; I was the traveler, and I am the destination. (Guidance comes from the Holy Spirit and not a Sufi Master.  Jesus taught that we are to call no one on this earth teacher in reference to spiritual truth.  There is only one teacher, and that is Christ, because there is only one way to Truth, the way of Christ Jesus.  Those who accept His teaching may become like Him; but they will never become Him.  That is the teaching of Christ.  Of course, Sufis have their own teaching, which will not help one come to God, to know Him as He would be known.)

The Role of Breathing in Sufism

Sufis hold (we can readily understand that this is true) that Breath is the most important nourishment for all levels of our existence. Physically, one can live three to four weeks without solid foods, two to three days without water but only 3-5 minutes without air. Oxygen is the necessary fuel to sustain life at the cellular level and the universal level. Breath is life and affects our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects.

Studies do indicate that diseases such as cancer, heart disease, lung disease and AIDS can be dramatically improved through proper oxygenation of the cells. Breathing well is the most important ingredient in healthy living. Deep breathing affects the way one looks, feels, thinks, acts and does wonders for the mind, body and spirit by harmonizing and uniting a person with the deepest life-giving energies.

Sufis believe that breathing is a strategic intermediary between mind and body. Breath is the bringer of consciousness and energy.  According to the Sufi, breath is the only physiological process that is both voluntary an involuntary (some Hindus and Buddhist would disagree with that statement). Most of the time people take this breath of life from the “giver of life” for granted. However, Sufis believe that learning to breathe consciously and deliberately can be the key to mastery of both emotions and the mind. In Sufism, students of meditation, or breath work, are often amazed at how quickly they can gain control over their emotions.

In Sufi breathing practice a person would usually breathes 2-3 hours through one nostril while the tissues of the other are engorged, then through the opposite nostril for 2-3 hours with a brief period when both nostrils are open. When the right nostril is clear, the right side of the body and left hemisphere of the brain are predominant. This can result in clear thinking, assertiveness, increased metabolism and alertness. On the other hand, when the left nostril is clear and the right hemisphere is predominant, the physiology and mind are inclined towards rest, relaxation and receptivity. When the breath is flowing equally through both nostrils, a sense of balance, integration, joy and freedom may be noted, which is, according to Sufis, like being in touch with the basic rhythm of the universe.

Sufis maintain that on the mental level breathing exercises are very helpful for increasing concentration abilities, improving clarity of perception and in balancing the brain hemisphere activities. Peace or disturbance of the mind is very dependent on the condition of the respiratory system. A Sufi believes that in learning to breathe correctly a person can gain control and balance in his life.

Sufis maintain that chronic hyperventilation, or over-breathing, is the prime suspect in a number of emotional or psychological disorders such as anxiety, panic attacks, depression and irrational fears. Any emotional stimulation can set off shallow over-breathing whether it is excitement, fear, anger or worry. Oxygen deprivation switches on the “fight or flight” response of the nervous system, creating a physical sensation of nervous arousal, which interferes with the action of the brain. This brain imbalance may manifest itself as agitation, poor concentration, panic, and as already mentioned, anxiety. These imbalances, tensions and stored emotions can be unlocked and released through the powerful transformation of breath work.

For these reasons, breathing plays a vital role in Sufism. Numerous breathing techniques have been passed down through the ages and have always been an integral part of Sufi meditation practices. Physics texts tell us that humans breathe in trillions of molecules of oxygen with every breath, molecules that were once part of everyone who ever lived on this earth.  Sufis hold that people are actually breathing each other every time a breath is taken. According to Sufis, each and every one of us contains molecules from everyone else who ever lived.


Breathing Techniques in Sufism-Breathing is an important practice in Sufism.  It is said to calm the mind and affords the atmosphere for deep meditation.

One Sufi Breathing Practice

For heart-singing (a breathing practice) it is as necessary to develop and control your breath as it is for your bodily wellbeing in general and essential for your spiritual clarity.

According to Sufis this Sufi breathing practice is simple and effective, as well as sacred and mystic.  Sufis hold that it will develop balance and control and will offer concentration and devotion.  It will always be a joy to perform and a priceless blessing to may practice. 

This element-breathing practice consists of breathing in and out through the nose respectively with the mouth, along with certain movements of the arms and hand-gestures and with the mental concentration on the elements.

Sufis say that this will create a balance between the creative forces in our being, on which our moods, our health, our thoughts and our deeds depend so much.

The breathing practice proceeds as follows:

Start by standing at ease and in balance, the air and atmosphere around must be as pure as possible, preferably in open air or near a window with not too cold fresh air.

A.                       The Nayaz Prayer for Purification is said, chanted or sung.

B.              The hands are held open before the breast:

Beloved Lord, Almighty God! Through the rays of the Sun, trough the waves of the Air, through the All-pervading Life in space, purify and revivify me, and, I pray, heal my body, heart and soul. Amen.

With Amen both hands are moved over the head.  The hands are held open on breast-high or held up on shoulder-high during all the element-phrases of the exercise.

The invocation is said with hands held folded.

The invocation is first attentively said or sung with a moment of silence after that it is said:

                             I (or we) invoke the presence of God.

The earth element with the mystical color yellow.

The element-phrase for the earth is said, chanted or sung.

O all-productive Mother Earth, we humbly offer our homage to Thee.

Breathing with five times inhaling and exhaling through the nose.

1. Inhaling through the nose, in five beats, the arms move from loose down to circling upward with the hands open to heaven, as to receive the vitality of the earth meanwhile mentally repeating during this movement: "O all-productive Mother Earth ".

2. Holding the breath for a moment and looking up, the hands held open upwards.

3. Then exhaling through the nose, also in five beats, with the arms going downwards, crossing before the breast to a bowed posture with the hands sideways outstretched open to the earth to connect and exchange the Earth energy through ourselves to all; one may repeat mentally: "I humbly offer homage to Thee ".

4. Holding the breath for a moment while standing bowed in devotion. The hands are held firmly stretched open up and down and act perceptible as connectors for what Sufis believe is the earth-magnetism.

Continue the practice for the other elements in a similar way.

The water element with the mystical color green.

O all-purifying Water, I willingly offer our homage to Thee.

Breathing occurs with five times inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth.

  1. Inhaling through the nose: " O all-purifying Water";
  2. Holding the breath for a moment.
  3. Exhaling through the mouth, like blowing through a straw: "I willingly offer..
  4. Holding the breath for a moment.

The hands are held as if water-drops are shaken off the fingers when coming down.

The fire element with the mystical color red.

O all-consuming Fire, I wholeheartedly offer our homage to Thee.

Breathing occurs with five times inhaling through the mouth and exhaling through the nose.

  1. Inhaling through the mouth like sucking at a straw: "O all-consuming Fire ";
  2. Holding the breath for a moment.
  3. Exhaling through the nose: "I wholeheartedly offer homage to Thee ".
  4. Holding the breath for a moment.

The hands are held over-stretched with fingers spread when held up and down.

The air element with the mystical color blue.

O all-pervading Air, I gladly offer homage to Thee.

Breathing with five times inhaling and exhaling through the mouth.

  1. Inhaling, as sucking, through the mouth: "O all-pervading Air".
  2. Holding the breath for a moment.
  3. Exhaling, as blowing, through the mouth: " I gladly offer homage to Thee ".
  4. Holding the breath for a moment.

The hands are waving like wings of a butterfly while moving up and down.

The ether element with the mystical color grey.

O Ether, essence of all, I passively offer homage to Thee.  

Breathing occurs through the nose without noticing the breath-stream or any rhythm.

To keep time one may repeat five times mentally the phrase: "O Ether ...

The hands are now held crossed on the breast left over right.

G. The Prayer for new life may be said, chanted or sung.

The hands are again held open during the prayer and the Amen ends as before.

O Thou, who abides in our hearts, most merciful and compassionate God, Lord of heaven and earth; we forgive others their trespasses and ask Thy forgiveness of our shortcomings.

We begin new life with a pure heart and clear conscience, with courage and hope; help us to fulfill the purpose of our lives under Thy divine guidance. Amen.

All life long you may do this breathing practice, beneficial as it is for all periods of life.

Sufis state that the breathings of the specific elements can also be done without being perceived on moments when we are in need for some help and inspiration. We just may sigh a little for more earth, water, air, fire or ether as desired to restore the balance in ourselves or in the situation to open new ways of progress or to change conditions.

O Elements, Servants of God, purify and revivify us!


Reasons for Sufi Practice


I. Psychological Healing

According to the Sufi, a person needs to be whole to take the journey. The point of this, according to Sufis, is to get your basic self in tune with your higher self.  According to Sufis, a person can become quite advanced in many ways and yet at a certain point find it necessary to self-destruct because she/he has not made a true accommodation in her/himself to sustain realization. Sufis state that many have started on the path even sneering at the psychological aspect of things, but had to go back to do such things as address our inner child, align the three selves, do a 12 step program, or some form of individual or group therapy.

II. Prayer Opening the self for the action of God in your life - ongoing communication and realization

For the Sufi there are different types of prayer. What is meant by prayer in this general sense includes far more than repeating certain established phrases aloud. Some of the things prayer would include as a category of Sufi practice are: the central experience of thanksgiving, ritualized movements accompanying words, a practice of contemplation of phrases from prayers, and an opportunity for devotion, the opening of an ongoing inner colloquy or dialogue with God.

III. Concentration

This key element can be simply described as the ability to maintain a steady focus on the object of concentration and ultimately to gain the secret of that object and to merge with it. Sufis teach the development of this faculty through the awakening of interest, feeling, and love for the object. Concentration practice is equivalent to practicing musical scales in the elementary stages. It is a building block for attainment of all kinds. For example, the ability to maintain one's purpose as a disciple on the spiritual path or to sustain a meditation depends upon concentration. Some elements of Sufi concentration practice are: holding simple images and symbols, maintaining steadiness of interest with eyes open and with eyes closed, moving from the dot to large fields of concentration, doing imaginatively enhanced concentrations.

IV. Vision

Sufis believe that a most essential component is the development of intuition. Put another way, it is the ability to seek guidance and to recognize it when it comes. What is the inner voice "which constantly cometh from within"? According to Sufis, when power leads and vision follows the waters of life are muddied and our enterprise fails but when vision leads and power follows our success is assured. Many Sufi practices are given to encourage the development of this faculty.

V. Wazifa practice  Working with the Divine Attributes

Sufis state that the qualities of God can be evoked and seen through the repetition of Wazifas (the Divine Names and Attributes) aloud, in thought, and simply holding the quality itself up to the view of consciousness. Initiators and dance leaders must learn how to use wazifas to meet the needs of an individual or a group. We must, according to the Sufi, learn to recognize divine attributes in nature, to recognize their function in ourselves and in others.

VI. Zikr practice  Working with the Divine Essence

For the Sufi, this is part of coming to an understanding of the Absolute nature of God. Part of this process is recitation of the Zikr (divine remembrance)-chanted, sung, in groups, alone, in thought, in pure contemplation. Sufis become continuous practitioners of Zikr.

VII. Breath Practice [Remember that Christ taught openly.  There should be no esoteric teaching in Christianity.]

This is another vast subject in the inner science of Sufi Ryazat (esoteric practice). Briefly, a few of the elements contained in this area are: the Healing Breaths, forms of kasab, shaghal, and amal, learning the difference between refined and coarse breathing and how that affects things, as well as the difference between a breath which emphasizes right or left nostril, inhalation or exhalation.   Sufis believe that one learns breath as darood for walk, as an aid for various physical and mental activities, as an aid for vision, as a doorway for deep meditation, as a source of prana (life force), as an oracle.

VIII. Contemplation

As distinct from Concentration, where the individual focuses on and ultimately merges with an object, Sufis believe that Contemplation is a technique by which the practitioner experiences her/himself as absorbed (Remember that Christ did not teach any of this.  This will not lead one to God.) in a greater reality and as part of the functioning of that greater reality. In other words, you don't experience yourself as a person feeling compassion; you experience yourself as a part of the great ocean of Compassion. Advanced heart contemplations such as Mushahida (the great witnessing) is said to effectuate this.

IX. Study

This is not to be ignored. The Sufis are asked to study the world scriptures, the esoteric teachings. [Again, there are no esoteric teachings.  Christ taught openly.  The Holy Spirit will teach what one needs to know and when.]

X. Love

Mevlana Jelal-ed-din Rumi says several times in his Masnavi "when I came to write the word love my pencil broke." The Sufis state that the realization of this may be the single most distinctive mark of the Sufi.  (Christians look to Christ’s love and the way He died to learn of love.  Sufis do not do this, to their own detriment.)  How can we truly develop the love quality? How does it become the instrument for the transmission of blessing as in the Dances of Universal Peace, for example? Love is the secret of support for all assemblies of spiritual seekers. We find God as nearest friend, as guest, as lover.  (We find the truth of love only in Christ.  Sufis do not see this.)

XI. Light—


Christ is the light for the world.  Those who do not see this light in Him dwell in self-perpetuated darkness.  Sufis, however, believe that the light is developed through contemplation and meditation on the nature of light. The Sufi states that a person will ultimately learn to use Light as a vehicle of spiritual transmission and realization. An example of this is through the use of the Glance, as in the Sufi Tawajjeh (sharing atmosphere, magnetism, and a spiritual state through the eyes and the breath) or the Darshan.

XII. Tassawuri  Working with Attunement

According to Sufis, Tassawuri includes learning to attune to the great beings through the development of fana (self-effacement), learning how to accommodate their atmosphere within your atmosphere thereby giving you an enhanced field of operation.  The Sufi says "united with all the illuminated souls" when the Sufi wishes to express the basic orientation with the recitation of the Sufi Invocation. In addition to the processes of fana-fi-sheikh, fana-fi-rasoul, and fana-fi-lillah (effacement in the being of the living, personal teacher, in the being of a World Teacher, in the being of Allah), part of this subject refers to the development of attunement in all aspects of life. According to the Sufi, the self learns through practicing a kind of focused emptiness, yet one finds a self in the midst of attunement. The Sufi believes that Fana does not mean becoming mindless.

XIII. Baka

Baka, which is sometimes called self-realization, is according to the Sufi, an ultimate stage which is pretty much beyond description. When Baka arises, one is supposed to discover that one is God, that one’s action is the action of God. Christians know this to be false.  This is pantheistic teaching and was not taught by Christ, the Apostles, Paul, or even Mohammed.   



Comparing Sufism and Christianity

Sufism is an outgrowth of Islam, but Sufis have a higher regard for the teachings of Jesus than most Muslims. At one extreme, a book by the Sufi master Javad Nurkhbhsh of the Nihmatullahi order called Jesus in the Eyes of the Sufis, says that Sufis look to Jesus much more than to Mohammed for inspiration, guidance and as their example! Most Sufis would not say this, and all Sufis do not recognize that Jesus is any more divine than anyone else can be.  They also do not accept all the teaching of Jesus.  There is really no comparison between Sufism and Christianity.  There are similarities of expression, but the teachings of Sufism are at variance with what Christ taught, as you well know by now.

Both Sufi and Christianity focus on experience. Below is a sampling of Christianity and Sufi expression.

Central Focus

"O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!" (Psalm 8:1 David is speaking)

"I am the well-preserved tablet" This is interesting, because Sura 85:20-22 says it is the Qur’an that is preserved on a tablet [in Heaven].

"I said LORD you are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing," (Psalm 16:2 )

He also said, "I saw the Ka’aba walking around me." Of God it is said, "Your obedience to me is greater than my obedience to You."

(Said by Bayazid Bestami (died 874/877 A.D.) and taken from The Essential Rumi p.288.)

"Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." Jesus in John 15:1:4-6

View of Ourselves

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than you. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ" (Paul is speaking in Philippians 2:3-5a.)

"Praise be to me… How great is my majesty/glory … I am your Lord … My banner is greater than that of Mohammed." (Bestami d.874/877.)


"I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might no sin against you." Psalm 119:10-11

"O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water." (Psalm 63:1 David is speaking from the desert of Judah.)

"This drunkenness began in some other tavern. When I get back around to that place, I’ll be completely sober. Meanwhile, I’m like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary." (From the Safa Anthology, taken from The Essential Rumi p.2)

"Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, O Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old." Psalm 25:4-6 (David is speaking.)

Prayer and Meditation

"Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. Morning by morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; morning by morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation." (Psalm 5:2-3 David is speaking)

"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer." (Psalm 19:14.)

"Ali was told a secret doctrine by Mohammed and told not to tell it, so he whispered it down the mouth of a well. Sometimes there’s no one to talk to. You must just set out on your own." (The Mathnawi 4:275-486, taken from The Essential Rumi p.195)

Metaphors of Wine

"You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound." (Ps 4:7)

"I am the wine drinker and the wine and the cupbearer" (said by Bestami who died 874/877 A.D, from The Essential Rumi p.288)

"Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit." (Ephesians 5:18)

"Happy is my head: and with loud shout I speak, saying, “Life’s breeze from the cup I seek.” On the face of wine sickness, sits not the sullenness of austerity. The disciple of the khirka, dreg-drinker, pleasant of disposition, I am. … Wine, bring that, by Hafiz’s decision, down from the pure heart, Hypocrisy’s dust, with the goblet’s grace, I may wash." (Divan of Hafez p.399.)

Metaphors of Food and Giving

"My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you." (Psalm 63:5)

A dervish knocked at a house to ask for a piece of dry bread, or moist, it didn’t matter.

"This is not a bakery," said the owner.

"Might you have a bit of gristle then?"

"Does this look like a butcher shop?"

"A little flour?"

"Do you hear a grinding stone?"

"Some water?"

"This is not a well."

Whatever the dervish asked for, the man made some tired joke and refused to give him anything.

Finally the dervish ran in the house, lifted up his robe, and squatted as though to use the bathroom.

“Hey, hey!"

"Quiet, you sad man. A deserted place is a fine spot to relieve oneself, and since there’s no living thing here, or means of living, it needs fertilizing."

(The Essential Rumi p.116-117 from The Mathnawi 6:1250-1257)



I have included the excerpt below from the writing of a modern Sufi to only provide a glance into Sufi mental purification.  These few pages are for the curious; but, I should admonish the reader that what is contained in this excerpt will not lead one to Christ.  If you read closely and think deeply you will see that what is being taught is a means by which man can effectuate his own mental purification.  There is no reliance on God, in essence.


The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan


Chapter XV
The Secret of Breath

    It is clear even to those who do not know medical science that the whole mechanism of the body stops when the breath has departed. That means that however perfect the mechanism of the body may be, in the absence of breath the body is a corpse. In other words, what is living in the body, or what makes it living, is breath. How few of us realize this fact. We go on day after day, working, busy with everyday life, absorbed in the thoughts we have, occupied with business, pursuing motives, and yet ignoring the principle upon which the whole of life is based. If someone says, 'Prayer is a very important thing', people may think, 'Yes, perhaps.' If one says, 'Meditation is a great thing', people may say, 'Yes, it is something.' But when one says, 'Breathing is a great secret', the reaction is, 'Why, I have never thought about it. What is it really?'
    As far as science goes, breathing is known to be air breathed in and breathed out. When it is breathed in one gets oxygen from space, and when it is breathed out one throws carbonic acid into space. When one goes still further one knows that breathing keeps the lungs and the organs of breath going, that digestive gases are drawn in, and that one gets a greater digestive power. On the basis of that principle people are beginning to use breathing in physical exercises to make the body healthier. For some years now voice-producers have given greater importance to breath. In reality the breathing itself is voice, and the whole voice-construction depends upon breathing. Then again some physicians are beginning to see that many illnesses of the nerves, of the lungs, or of different nervous centers can often be helped by breathing. There seems to be a general awakening to the science of breath. And those who have practiced breathing in connection with physical culture or for the improvement of their particular condition, illness, or weakness, have found wonderful results. It is thus far that the science of breath has reached.
    But when we come to the mystery of breath, it is another domain altogether. The perceptible breath which the nostrils can feel as air drawn in and air going out is only an effect of breathing. It is not breath. For the mystic, breath is that current which carries the air out and brings the air in. The air is perceptible, not the current; the current is imperceptible. It is a kind of ethereal magnetism, a finer kind of electricity, the current of which goes in and comes out, putting the air into action. This is what the mystic calls Nafs, which means the self. Breath is the self, the very self of man. Also Atman means the soul, and in German the same word is used for breath. This shows (Sufis believe) that if there is any trace of the soul, it is to be found in breath.
    Naturally, breath being the self, it is not only the air which one exhales but it is a current which, according to Sufi mystics, runs from the physical plane into the innermost plane; a current which runs through the body, mind, and soul, touching the innermost part of life and also coming back; a continual current perpetually moving in and out. This gives quite a different explanation of the breath and shows the importance of something that very few people consider important; and it makes one understand that the most important part of being is breath, which reaches the innermost part of life and also reaches outwards to the surface, which means touching the physical plane. But the direction of breath is in a dimension which the science of today does not recognize, a dimension which is recognized by Sufi mystics as being the dimension 'within'.
    One day I was lecturing in
England, and among the audience was a well-known scientist. After the lecture he came to me and said, 'I am very interested, but there is one thing that puzzles me. I cannot understand the word "within". What do you mean? Within the body? We can only understand inside the body.' This shows the difficulty of reaching a common understanding between science and mysticism. One day it will be overcome. It is only a temporary difficulty.
    To give a philosophical explanation of this dimension, one can take as an example the simile of the eyes: what is it in these eyes of ours that can accommodate a horizon of so many miles? The size of the eyes is so small, and they can accommodate such a large horizon. Where is it accommodated? It is accommodated within. That is the only example one can give. It is a dimension which cannot be measured, but which is accommodating, which is an accommodation. The accommodation of the eye is not a recognized dimension, yet it is a dimension. In the same way there is a dimension of mind. One can think deeply and feel profoundly; one can be conscious of life and be more deeply conscious still; but one cannot point to it, because this dimension is abstract. If there is any word, it can only be called 'within'. And through that dimension a current runs from the innermost plane to the physical plane and there it keeps life living. That is why one can say that breath is the soul and soul is the breath. It is important to understand that one does not inhale like a straight line going in and coming out the same way, as one imagines it to be. The real action is that of a wheel, a circle; from the nostrils it makes a circle and the end of the circle is again in the nostrils.
    The third point to understand about breath is that, just like an electric wire, it shows a glow; and as the heat and light are not confined to that glow but are around it too, in the same way the radiance of this circle of breath which goes on through the body touches every part of the body.
    Another rule to be observed is that with every direction in which the current of breath goes, it causes a different action and a different result. For instance, contracting, stretching, blinking, all these actions are the play of the breath going in different directions. (Sufis believe this; however, this is not verifiable.) So it is with every natural action one does during the day. Also coughing, yawning, heaving a deep sigh, all these are different actions of breath. Besides, the ability to eat and drink, the ability to expel all that one has in the body, are all results of different directions through which breath works. And if the breath does not work in one direction, then that particular activity of the body is stopped. It is a science that has yet to be explored by scientists and physicians. And the more it is explored the less necessity there will be for operations and many other dreadful things that doctors have to do or to give to their patients. Also the tendency to lung diseases, the pain of child-birth, and early death, all these will be avoided when the science of breath is well understood by the scientists of the day, and practiced by the generality.
    The picture of God and of souls is that of the sun and its rays. The rays are not different from the sun; the sun is not different from the rays. Yet there is one sun and many rays. The rays have no existence of their own; they are only an action of the sun. They are not separate from the sun, and yet the rays appear to be many different rays. The one sun gives the idea of one center. So it is with God and man. What is God? The Spirit which projects different rays; and each ray is a soul. (This is not true.  This has been dealt with previously in this paper.) Therefore the breath is that current which is a ray, a ray which comes from that Sun which is the spirit of God. And this ray is the sign of life. What is the body? The body is only a cover over this ray. When this ray has withdrawn itself from this cover, the body becomes a corpse.
    Then there is another cover which is the mind. The difference between mind and heart is like the surface and the bottom. It is the surface of the heart which is mind, and it is the depth of the mind which is heart. The mind expresses the faculty of thinking, the heart of feeling. This is an inner garb, a garb worn by the same thing which is called breath. Therefore, if the ray which is the breath has withdrawn itself from the body, it still exists, for it has another garb, it has a garb within. The outer garb was the body; the inner garb is the mind. The breath continues to exist, and if it is lost in that garb which is called mind, then there is another garb finer still, called the soul. Because breath runs through all three: body, mind, and soul.
    Seen from this point of view one will realize that man has never been separated from God; that with every breath man touches God. He is linked with God by the current of breath. Just like people drawing water from a well, the rope in their hands and the jug of water in the well. The jug has the water, but the rope is in the hand. In so far as our soul is in the spirit of God, it is the ray of the divine sun, while the other end of it is what we call breath. We only see it reaching so far and no further, because it is only the higher part of the physical body that touches different planes. The breath goes there, but we do not see the action of breath. The action of breath in our body is limited; but in reality this current, this breath, connects the body with the divine Spirit, connecting God and man in one current.
    The central current of our mind is also breath. That is why we do not only breathe through the body, but also through the mind, and through the soul too. Furthermore, death is only the departing of the body from this main current which we call breath. But when the body has departed the mind still adheres to it, and if the mind is living, the person is living also. This is what gives us the proof of the hereafter. Many will say, 'How uninteresting to live after death not as an individual, a body, but as a mind!' But it is the mind which has made this body; the mind is more self-sufficient than we can imagine. The mind is in a sphere in which it has its own body, just as this physical body belongs to the physical sphere.
     The body of the mind is as sufficient and even more concrete as the body we have in the physical world, for the reason that the physical body is very limited and subject to death and decay. The body of the mind which is ethereal lasts long, being less dependent upon food and water; it is maintained more by breath than by anything else. We are maintained even in this physical world chiefly by breath, although we recognize bread and water and other food as our sustenance. If we only knew that bread and water are not even a hundredth part of our sustenance compared with what breath does in our life! We cannot exist five minutes without breath; we can be without food for some days.
    Since breath has such great importance, the greatest possible importance, it is clear that the way to bring order and harmony to our body, to bring order and harmony to our mind, to harmonize mind with body, and to harmonize body and mind with soul, is by the breath. It is the development of breath, knowledge of breath, practice of breath which help us to get ourselves straightened out, to put ourselves in tune, to bring order into our being. There are many who without proper guidance and knowledge practice breath. Year after year they go on and very little result is achieved. Many go out of their minds, and very often the little veins of the brain and chest are ruptured by wrong breathing. There are many who have experienced this by not knowing how to breathe. One has to be extremely careful; one must do breathing practices rightly or not do them at all.
    One cannot speak fully of all that can be accomplished with the help of breath. If there are men living in the world today who while standing on the earth witness the inner planes of existence, if there are any who really can communicate with the higher spheres, if there are any who can convince themselves of the life in the hereafter and of what it will be like, it is the masters of breath, and not the students of intellectual books.
    The Yogis have learnt very much about the secret of breath from the serpent; that is why they regard the serpent as the symbol of wisdom. Shiva, the Lord of Yogis, has a serpent around his neck as a necklace. It is the sign of mystery, of wisdom. There are cobras in the forests of tropical countries, especially in
India, which sleep for six weeks; and then one day the cobra wakens, and it breathes because it is hungry; it wants to eat. And its thoughts attract food from wherever it may be; food is attracted from miles away by its thoughts. The breath of the cobra is so magnetic that the food is helplessly drawn; a fowl, or a deer or some other animal is drawn closer. It is so strongly drawn that it even comes down from the air, and falls into its mouth. The snake makes no effort. It just breathes; it opens its mouth, and its food comes into its mouth. And then it rests again for six weeks.
    The serpent, too, is so strongly built that without wings it flies and without feet it walks. Also, if there is any animal which can be called the healthiest animal of all, it is the serpent. It is never ill; before it becomes ill it dies, yet it lives a very long time. It is said by those living in tropical countries that cobras can take revenge after as much as twelve years. If you once hit a cobra, it will always remember. That shows its memory, its mind. Music also appeals to the cobra as music appeals to intelligent men. The more unintelligent the man, the less music appeals to him; music is closely related to intelligence. This shows that every sign of intelligence, of wisdom, and of power is to be seen in the cobra.
    The mystics have studied the life of the cobra and they have found two wonderful things. One is that it does not waste energy. Birds fly until they are tired; animals run here and there. The cobra does not do so. It makes a hole where it lives and rests. It knows the best way of repose, a repose which it can continue as long as it wishes. We cannot do this. We human beings, of all creatures, know least about repose. We only know about work, not about repose. We attach every importance to work, but never to rest; this is because we do not find anything in rest but everything in work. The work of rest we do not see.
    Besides, the natural breathing capacity of the cobra is such as no other creature shows. That capacity goes as a straight line throughout its body. The current which it gets from space and which runs through it, gives it lightness and energy and radiance and power. Compared with the cobra all other creatures are awkwardly built. The skin of the cobra is so very soft and of such silky texture, and in a moment's time it can shed its skin and be new, just as if born anew. The mystics have learnt from it. They say, 'We must go out of our body just as the cobra goes out of its skin; we must go out of our thoughts, ideas, feelings, just as the cobra does with its skin.' They say, 'We must be able to breathe as rhythmically, to control our breath as the cobra does. We must be able to repose and relax in the same way as the cobra can. And then it will be possible to attain all we desire.' As Christ has said, 'Seek ye first the
Kingdom of God... and all things shall be added unto you.' The same things that are added to the cobra, all that it needs, could be added to man also if only he did not worry about them. As Sa'di has said, 'My self, you worry so much over things that you need, but know that the One who works for your needs is continually working for them. Yet you worry over them because it is your disease, your passion that makes you worry all the time! '
    When we look at life more keenly, we see it is the same. Our worry about things seems to be our nature, our character; we cannot help it. It becomes such a part of our nature to worry that if we had no worry we would doubt if we were really living! Mystics, therefore, for thousands of years have practiced control of the breath, its balance, its rhythm, the expanding, lengthening, broadening, and centralizing of the breath. By this great phenomena have been accomplished. All the Sufis in
Persia, in Egypt, in India, have been great masters of breathing. And there are some masters who are conscious of their spiritual realization with every breath they inhale and exhale. With every breath comes the consciousness of their plane of realization.
    For a person who really knows how to work with breath, if he is not lazy, there is nothing he cannot accomplish; he cannot say of anything that it is impossible. Only it requires work; it is not only a matter of knowing the theory, but it requires the understanding of it. That is why the adepts, the mystics, do not consider breathing only as a science or as an exercise; they consider it as the most sacred thing, as sacred as religion. And in order to accomplish this breathing a discipline is given by a teacher.
    But there is a great difficulty. I have found sometimes in my travels, when I have been speaking about these things that people come with preconceived ideas. They are willing to learn, but they do not want discipline. But in the army there is discipline; in the factory, in the office there is a certain discipline; in study at the university, everywhere there is discipline; yet in spiritual things people do not want it; when it comes to spiritual things they make difficulties. They think so little of it that they do not want to make any sacrifice. Because they do not know where it leads to, they have no belief. Besides there are false methods which are taught here and there, and people are commercializing that which is most sacred. In that way the highest ideal is brought down to the lowest depth; and it is time that the real thing should be introduced, seriously studied, experienced, and realized by practice.  


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