Wednesday, 7 November 2012

History of Sufism

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{Expert-subject|Muslim history|date=March 2009}}
Sufism is a mystic and ascetic movement which originated in the Golden Age of Islam, from about the 9th to 10th centuries.
The emergence of Sufism is a consequence of the wide geographical spread of Islam after the Rashidun conquests, and the resulting absorption of a wide range of mystic traditions from outside Arabia, especially Greater Persia. Sufism became a more formalized movement by the 12th century, and was a very successful movement throughout the Muslim world during the 13th to 16th centuries. There also were numerous Sufi orders active in the modern period, especially in non-Arab parts of the Muslim world.

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[edit] Early history

Sufism has been known in Transoxania and Khorasan since its very beginnings. Some of the greatest and most renowned Sufis were from this region, including 8th century saints such as Al-Fozail ibn Iyaz and Ibrahim ibn Adham and their successors, e.g. Shaqiq al-Balkhi and al-Farabi (9th century).
Towards the end of the first millennium CE, a number of manuals began to be written summarizing the doctrines of Sufism and describing some typical Sufi practices. Two of the most famous of these are now available in English translation: the Kashf al-Mahjûb of Hujwiri, and the Risâla of Qushayri.[1]
Two of Imam Al Ghazali's greatest treatises, the "Revival of Religious Sciences" and the "Alchemy of Happiness," argued that Sufism originated from the Qur'an and was thus compatible with mainstream Islamic thought, and did not in any way contradict Islamic Law—being instead necessary to its complete fulfillment. This became the mainstream position among Islamic scholars for centuries, challenged only recently on the basis of selective use of a limited body of texts [example needed]. Ongoing efforts by both traditionally trained Muslim scholars and Western academics are making Imam Al-Ghazali's works available in English translation for the first time,[2] allowing English-speaking readers to judge for themselves the compatibility of Islamic Law and Sufi doctrine.
The tomb of Khoja Afāq, near Kashgar, China.
Sufi orders appeared at the beginning of 12th century and have established strong links with the state apparatus since then. This connection became apparent when sufis were actively encouraged by Sunni dynasties in their struggle against Ismaili Shia.[3]

[edit] 13th to 16th centuries

Between the 13th and 16th centuries CE, Sufism produced a flourishing intellectual culture throughout the Islamic world, a "Golden Age" whose physical artifacts are still present. In many places, a lodge (known variously as a zaouia, khanqah, or tekke) would be endowed through a pious foundation in perpetuity (waqf) to provide a gathering place for Sufi adepts, as well as lodging for itinerant seekers of knowledge. The same system of endowments could also be used to pay for a complex of buildings, such as that surrounding the Süleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul, including a lodge for Sufi seekers, a hospice with kitchens where these seekers could serve the poor and/or complete a period of initiation, a library, and other structures. No important domain in the civilization of Islam remained unaffected by Sufism in this period.[4]
Sufism was an important factor in the historical spread of Islam, and in the creation of regional Islamic cultures, especially in Africa[5] and Asia. Recent academic work on these topics has focused on the role of Sufism in creating and propagating the culture of the Ottoman world, including a study of the various branches of the Naqshbandi [6] and Khalwati orders[7] , and in resisting European imperialism in North Africa and South Asia.[8]

[edit] Spread to India

Nizamuddin Auliya's tomb (right) and Jama'at Khana Masjid (background), at Nizamuddin Dargah complex, in Nizamuddin West, Delhi
Muslims of South Asia prominently follow the Chishtiyya, Naqshbandiyyah, Qadiriyyah and Suhrawardiyyah orders. Of them the Chishti order is the most visible. Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, a disciple of Khwaja Usman haaroni, the propounder of this order, introduced it in India. He came to India from Afghanistan with the army of Shihab-ud-Din Ghuri in 1192 AD and started living permanently in Ajmer from 1195. Centuries later, with the support of Mughal rulers, his shrine became a place of pilgrimage. Akbar used to visit the shrine every year.[1]
Turkic conquests in South Asia were accompanied by four Sufi mystics of the Chishtiyya order from Afghanistan: Moinuddin (d. 1233 in Ajmer), Qutbuddin (d. 1236 in Delhi), Nizamuddin (d.1335 in Delhi) and Fariduddin (d.1265 in Pakpattan now in Pakistan) [2]. During the reign of Muhammad bin Tughluq, who spread the Delhi sultanate towards the south, the Chistiyya spread its roots all across India.[3] The Sufi shine at Ajmer in Rajasthan and Nizamuddin Auliya in Delhi, Ashraf Jahangir Semnani in Kichaucha Shariff belong to this order.
Some Sufis under the Chishtiyya order were not against absorbing ideas from the Hindu Bhakti movement and even used Hindi for their devotional songs. However, the orthodox Ulama with royal support insisted that the Sufis go "back to Shariat". Even though the Ulama had certain differences with Sufis over theological and mystic issues, the Shariat remained a cementing force between them.[4]
The Suharawardi order was started by Abu al-Najib Suhrawardi, a Kurdish or Persian Sufi of Baghdad, and brought to India by Baha-ud-din Zakariya of Multan. The Suhrawardiyyah order of Sufism gained popularity in Bengal.[5] In addition, the Suhrawardiyyah order, under the leadership of Abu Hafs Umar al-Suhrawardi (d. 1234), also bequeathed a number of teachings and institutions that were influential in shaping other order that emerged during later periods.
The Khalwati order was founded by Umar al-Khalwati, an Azerbaijani Sufi known for undertaking long solitary retreats in the wilderness of Azerbaijan and northwestern Iran. While the Indian Subcontinent branches of the order did not survive into modern times, the order later spread into the Ottoman Empire and became influential there after it came under persecution by the rise of the Safavid Shahs during the sixteenth century[9].
The Qadiriyyah order founded by Abdul Qadir Gilani whose tomb is at Baghdad. It is popular among the Muslims of South India.
Baha-ud-Din Naqshband (1318-1389) of Turkestan founded Naqshbandi order of Sufism. Khwaja Mohhammad Baqi Billah Berang whose tomb is in Delhi (E.I.Rose ) introduced Naqshbandi order in India. The essence of this order was insistence on rigid adherence to Shariat and nurturing love for prophet. It was patronized by the Mughal rulers, as its founder was their ancestral 'Pir' (Spiritual guide). "The conquest of India by Babur in 1526 gave considerable impetus to the Naqshbandiyya order" [6]. Its disciples remained loyal to the throne because of the common Turkic origin. With the royal patronage of most of the Mughal rulers, the Naqshbandi order caused the revival of Islam in its pure form.

[edit] Muslim Spain

Flourishing Sufisim in Al-Andalus has been seen in two different ways. For some it reflects the influence of mystical tradition started by Ibn Masarra. For others it has to do with the influence of Ghazali's thoughts and teachings.[10]
During the twelfth century the foundation for mystic thought in the western world lay in Spain. In Spain intellectual activity had already reached a pre-eminence that was rarely enjoyed by mystics in the East. Due to this Sufis from Al-Andalus during the sixth/twelfth century created their own doctrines.[11]
The earliest introduction of Sufism to Spain was by Ibn Masarrah. He was considered to have established the first Sufi school in the providence. It is believed by some that he is the originator of a system of thought that is followed by Almerian followers and Ibn ‘Arabi. There is no historical connection linking this claim however.[12] Early Fuquahs in Spain were somewhat skeptical of philosophical thought as well as Sufi speculation. The works of Ghazali were also committed to flames by the Murabit Prince.[12]
By the twelfth Century however, times had begun to change. Many people began to read the works of thinkers such as Aristotle and Plato. Some of the people at the forefront of the philosophical movement in Spain were Ibn Bajjah, Ibn Tufail, Ibn Rushd as well as a Jewish scholar named Ibn Maimun. It was Ibn Tufail who introduced the element of Sufism into this philosophical way of thinking.[12]-
At the same time that Ibn Tufail was introducing Sufi ways of thinking into philosophy a group of Sufi masters was emerging from “the famous centers of Spain.”[12] These scholars defended the works of theosophists such as Ghazali and Al-Qushairi. Abu l-‘Abbas ibn al-‘Arif is described as being one of the first to interpret Ghazali in the West. He is also described as the founder of a method of spiritual training called tariqah. Ibn al-‘Arif had a disciple known as Ibn Qasi who set up a group of religious followers in Portugal and built a monastery in Silves. He left a work known as Khal al-Na’lain, which ‘Arabi has written a commentary on.[13]
A school was also set up in Seville and was headed by Ibn Barrajah, who was considered to be one of the most philosophical of all Sufis. He came from North Africa.[14]
One of the most important Sufis to come out of Spain is Ibn ‘Arabi. Ibn ‘Arabi was born in Marcia in 1165 (AH 560) at the beginning of the Almohad reign. As a child he moved with his father, a high ranking Muslim official, to Seville where his father was given a post in the Almohad sultans administration. Ibn ‘Arabi was schooled in the traditional Islamic sciences and quickly mastered the major fields of Islamic knowledge. In his teens Ibn ‘Arabi converted to Sufism. He dismissed all of his well to do friends and devoted his life to God. He acquired all the knowledge he could from the Sheikhis in Seville then he began to search the Iberian Peninsula for renown spiritual tutors. He came into contact with the great Sufi master from North Africa Abu Madyon, but soon surpassed even him. He went on a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1201 (AH 598), he would never again return to Andalusia.[15]
Some of Ibn ‘Arabi’s writings include Fusus al-hikam ("The Ringstones of Wisdom"), Al-Futuhat al-makkiyya ("The Meccan Openings"), and Tarjuman al-ashwaq ("The Interpreter of Yearnings").[16] His works in Andalusia focused mainly on the prefect human individual, monastic metaphysics, and mystical path to spiritual and intellectual perfection.[17]
Other important Sufis include Ibn Masarra who was an important mystical thinker of the time and who is credited with setting up the first Sufi school in Spain. There is also Abu Ja’far al-‘Uryani, and Nunah Fatimah bit Ibn al-Mathanna whom Ibn ‘Arabi discusses in his book Sufi’s of Andalusia.[18]

[edit] Modern history

Current Sufi orders include Ba 'Alawiyya, Chishti, Khalwati, Naqshbandi, Nimatullahi, Oveyssi, Qadiria Boutshishia, Qadiriyyah, Qalandariyya, Sarwari Qadiri, Shadhliyya and Suhrawardiyya.[19]
Sufism is popular in such African countries as Morocco and Senegal, where it is seen as a mystical expression of Islam.[20] Sufism is traditional in Morocco but has seen a growing revival with the renewal of sufism around contemporary spiritual teachers such as Sidi Hamza al Qadiri al Boutshishi. Mbacke suggests that one reason Sufism has taken hold in Senegal is because it can accommodate local beliefs and customs, which tend toward the mystical.[21]
Sufism suffered setbacks in North Africa during the colonial period; the life of the Algerian Sufi master Emir Abd al-Qadir is instructive in this regard.[22] Notable as well are the lives of Amadou Bamba and Hajj Umar Tall in sub-Saharan Africa, and Sheikh Mansur Ushurma and Imam Shamil in the Caucasus region.
In the 20th century some more modernist Muslims have called Sufism a superstitious religion that holds back Islamic achievement in the fields of science and technology.[23]
A number of western converts to Islam have also embraced Sufism, sometimes resulting in considerable syncretism or generic spiritualism detached from Islam, as in the case of "Universal Sufism" or the writings of René Guénon or G. I. Gurdjieff.
One of the first to return to Europe as an official representative of a Sufi order, and with the specific purpose to spread Sufism in Western Europe, was the Ivan Aguéli. Other noteworthy Sufi teachers who were active in the West include Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, Inayat Khan, Nazim Al-Haqqani, Javad Nurbakhsh, Bulent Rauf, Irina Tweedie, Idries Shah and Muzaffer Ozak.
Currently active Sufi academics and publishers include Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Nuh Ha Mim Keller, Abdullah Nooruddeen Durkee, Abdal Hakim Murad, Syed Waheed Ashraf and the Franco-Moroccan Faouzi Skali.

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Titus, Murray T., Indian Islam, 1979, Page 117.
  2. ^ Markovitz, Claude (ed), A History of Modern India, Anthen Press, 2002, Page 30.
  3. ^ Contemporary Relevance of Sufism, 1993, published by Indian Council for Cultural Relations.
  4. ^ Rizvi, Saiyied Athar Abbas, History of Sufism in India, Volume 2, 1992, Page 180

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ The most recent version of the Risâla is the translation of Alexander Knysh, Al-Qushayri's Epistle on Sufism: Al-risala Al-qushayriyya Fi 'ilm Al-tasawwuf (ISBN 978-1859641866). Earlier translations include a partial version by Rabia Terri Harris (Sufi Book of Spiritual Ascent) and complete versions by Harris, and Barbara R. Von Schlegell.
  2. ^ Several sections of the Revival of Religious Sciences have been published in translation by the Islamic Texts Society; see http://www.fonsvitae.com/sufism.html. The Alchemy of Happiness has been published in a complete translation by Claud Field (ISBN 978-0935782288), and presents the argument of the much larger Revival of Religious Sciences in summary form.
  3. ^ Pinto, Paulo (2003). "Dangerous Liaisons: Sufism and the State in Syria". IWM Junior Visiting Fellows' Conferences XIV (1). http://www.iwm.at/publ-jvc/jc-14-01.pdf. Retrieved 21 July 2012. 
  4. ^ Victor Danner - "The Islamic Tradition: An introduction." Amity House. February 1988.
  5. ^ For the pre-modern era, see Vincent J. Cornell, Realm of the Saint: Power and Authority in Moroccan Sufism, ISBN 978-0-292-71209-6; and for the colonial era, Knut Vikyr, Sufi and Scholar on the Desert Edge: Muhammad B. Oali Al-Sanusi and His Brotherhood, ISBN 978-0-8101-1226-1.
  6. ^ Dina Le Gall, A Culture of Sufism: Naqshbandis in the Ottoman World, 1450-1700 , ISBN 978-0-7914-6245-4.
  7. ^ John J. Curry, The Transformation of Muslim Mystical Thought in the Ottoman Empire: The Rise of the Halveti Order, 1350-1650 , ISBN 978-0-7486-3923-6.
  8. ^ Arthur F. Buehler, Sufi Heirs of the Prophet: The Indian Naqshbandiyya and the Rise of the Mediating Sufi Shaykh, ISBN 978-1-57003-783-2.
  9. ^ John J. Curry, The Transformation of Muslim Mystical Thought in the Ottoman Empire: The Rise of the Halveti Order, 1350-1650 , ISBN 978-0-7486-3923-6.
  10. ^ Maribel Fierro, "The Polemic about the 'Karamat al-awaliya' and the Development of Sufism in al-Andalus," Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 55, no. 2 (1992), 236.
  11. ^ A.M Mohamed Mackeen, "The Early History of Sufism in the Maghrib Prior to Al-Shadhili" Journal of American Oriental Society 91, no 3 (1971): 402-405.
  12. ^ a b c d A.M Mohamed Mackeen, "The Early History of Sufism in the Maghrib Prior to Al-Shadhili" Journal of American Oriental Society 91, no 3 (1971): 402-405
  13. ^ A.M Mohamed Mackeen, "The Early History of Sufism in the Maghrib Prior to Al-Shadhili" Journal of American Oriental Society 91, no 3 (1971): 403
  14. ^ A.M Mohamed Mackeen, "The Early History of Sufism in the Maghrib Prior to Al-Shadhili" Journal of American Oriental Society 91, no 3 (1971): 402
  15. ^ Alexander Knysh,"Ibn 'Arabi," in 'The Literature of Al-Andalus', ed. Maria Rosa Menocal et al. (Cambridge:Cambridge Press, 2000), 331-344.
  16. ^ Muhyidin Ibn 'Arabi Society,http://www.ibnarabisociety.org/index.html
  17. ^ Alexander Knysh,"Ibn 'Arabi," in 'The Literature of Al-Andalus', ed. Maria Rosa Menocal et al. (Cambridge:Cambridge Press, 2000), 331-344
  18. ^ Ibn 'Arabi, Sufis of Andalusia, trans. R. W. J. Austin (Berkeley: University of California, 1971), 63 & 145
  19. ^ The Jamaat Tableegh and the Deobandis by Sajid Abdul Kayum, Chapter 1: Overview and Background.
  20. ^ "Sufism and Religious Brotherhoods in Senegal," Babou, Cheikh Anta, The International Journal of African Historical Studies, v. 40 no1 (2007) p. 184-6
  21. ^ Sufism and Religious Brotherhoods in Senegal, Khadim Mbacke, translated from the French by Eric Ross and edited by John Hunwick. Princeton, N.J.: Markus Wiener, 2005.
  22. ^ See in particular the biographical introduction to Michel Chodkiewicz, The Spiritual Writings of Amir Abd Al-Kader, ISBN 978-0-7914-2446-9.
  23. ^ From the article on Sufism in Oxford Islamic Studies Online

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