Thursday, September 25, 2008

About a Sufi

While there is no precise definition of a ‘Sufi’ the description of one is of a person who is ‘pure’. By being pure it is meant that the sufi rids from himself his impurities that have been a part of him owing to his being human.

This is a journey to perfection. God has gifted humankind with a very powerful gift: “knowledge” and using this gift you rid yourself of impurities. I have written about this in my post: “Why Ego is bad” and also in my post: “How to achieve the ultimate goal”.

While on this journey your “shaoor” (urdu) improves, i.e. you come closer to enlightenment. By this I mean you understand reality better and you come closer to the “ultimate reality”.

The Quran it is said is a book of wisdom – a book that has said many things in parables. And by wisdom is meant “truth of the ultimate reality”. Wisdom it is because knowledge is derived from it. All knowledge is derived from wisdom which I have already described. And this knowledge is the key to becoming ‘pure’ or closer to the ultimate reality i.e. closer to God.

A sufi while on his journey tries to develop “Ishq e Haqiqi”. I will give you a better description of this then that I have given in my earlier post: Ishq e Haqiqi has two components (breaking it down linguistically): “Ishq” and “Haqiqat”.

Ishq is the highest point that you have felt with somebody or something. For example the highest point that you have felt with your mother is Ishq. The highest point you have felt with a friend, or even with God that is Ishq. Laila and Majnu/ Romeo and Juliet, the highest point of their love was Ishq.

Haqiqi comes from Haqiqat which means reality and it is one of the most radical concepts in Islam.

And so Ishq e Haqiqi is “Ishq of haqiqat” and that is what a sufi develops as he uses knowledge to free himself of the troubles in his everyday life, by working on himself and improving himself, thus empowering himself.

By doing this he also experiences freedom. A very good quote about freedom by Daniel J. Boorstin is: “Freedom means the opportunity to be what we never thought we would be.”

Now so people say that to get to Ishq e Haqiqi (the superior kind of love) you have to have Ishq e Mijazi (which you would have with your partner for example). They say this figuratively but the point they want to communicate is very important: You have to be “Lateef” in order to develop Ishq e Haqiqi.

“Lateef” , the best description I have for this is: “being light spirited”. A person with the “soul of a woman” is lateef. That’s why I think women generally are more Lateef, although they can be very crass too if they don’t have the security that comes from knowledge.

And to me “latafat” is the spirit of/one of the sources within man of knowledge. If you are lateef you will be able to think freely!

An excellent poem by CONSTANTINE CAVAFY (1863–1933) translated by Rae Dalven tells us about this journey:


When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the angry Poseidon—do not fear them:
You will never find such as these on your path
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your spirit and your body.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your heart does not set them up before you.

Pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many, when,
with such pleasure, with such joy
you will enter ports seen for the first time;
stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensual perfumes of all kinds,
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
visit many Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from scholars.

Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years;
and to anchor at the island when you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would never have set out on the road.
She has nothing more to give you.
And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what Ithacas mean.

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