Principles and Practices of Sufism
|We showed humankind the Way …
As to the Righteous,
They shall drink of a Cup …
And their Lord will give them
To drink of a Wine,
Pure and Holy.
Qur’an LXXVI: 3,5,21
There are people among the servants of Allah those that the Almighty Lord offers
Wine, pure and holy. When they drink they shall become drunken;
while drunken, they shall become clean; when clean, they shall reach
annihilation; when annihilated, they shall strive and they shall find.
When they reach forth into unity there remains no separation between
them and their Beloved. — Amir Al Momenin Ali (7th Century)
A synopsis of the making of history
On the date of April 1, 1995 I looked around me and saw people from around the world gathered together in San Francisco to attend the Sufism Symposium, in that moment I was suddenly taken back to the beginning of the history of Sufism, at a time where the people of Suffa lived . As the people of Suffa had gathered together from many different cultures in order to hear the message of unity, so to had the participants of the Sufism Symposium. We were all here together in order to hear that same message of unity. On that Saturday and Sunday of April 1 & 2, people with warm gestures and admirable discipline began arriving from early in the morning in order to reserve their space in the grand ballroom of the Cathedral Hill Hotel were the Symposium was held. This was the first time in my life that I have come across so many people from different lands , and diverse schools of Sufism gathering together in one place. These students of the inner knowledge of Islam were so respectful, graceful, and honorable. Their politeness, generosity, discipline, friendship, and reverence was overwhelming and astonishing. It reminded me of the saying, it is only the knowledgeable who are humble.
This was truly a Symposium, a gathering of the Wine Drinkers, who were raptured by the pure wine of the Divine, “their Provider will drink them from the Pure Wine…”, the drunkards, the Faqirs, the enchanted ones, those who were drunken by the extremity of Divine love perfected in the Winery of their heart where Divine is the Wine Bearer and the Sufi is the Drunken.
Bring to me Wine, the life giving Wine;
Pour ecstasy into my cup, excuse my desire.
Oh Wine bearer bring the Wine,
Come and offer it to all.
And Shah Maghsoud proclaimed:
Those ruined drunkards with the eternal Wine,
All drunk to the end of all through their own gaze.
These Sufis drink the vintage of Unity
And so released from the duality, by the means of their own Unity. These Sufis brought their gifts of rapture and Unity and offered it to all, this was the Symposium of the Divine’s Beauty.
As the Symposium began to start eager and open hearted attendees began to pack the ballroom. There was awesome silence ruling the audience, as though everyone was in the state of meditation. Suddenly a beautiful voice began to recite: la ilaha illa Allah, Mohammedan rasul Allah: there is no god except Allah and Mohammed is His Messenger. This powerful voice brought people into the state of ecstasy, it brought the seekers of the Divine, the searchers of reality, the lovers of the eternal Beloved, the faithful, the believer, the scholar and the artist to a state of unity and ecstasy. Sheikh Tijani, a Sufi from Africa where the first pillar of civilization was established, brought this message of the Prophet in a most fascinating fashion. Not only was his outer clothing beautiful, but his inner beauty also impressed the whole audience. He stood majestic in front of the crowd and invited everyone to understand Divine unity and to witness Divine beauty. His voice like those people of Suffa, will find its suitable listeners during the course of time and will become eternal in the heart of the deserving.
I witnessed that after fourteen centuries the heart of the pure from the inner circle of the Prophet still beats and longs for unification.
This is the first time in the history of Sufism that an organization was established, and dedicated itself to the cause of Sufism beyond the confines of prejudice in order to invite Sufis from many different schools to celebrate the eminent beauty of Sufism and to celebrate the greatness of such fascinating history. As it was so beautifully written by Sheikh Vasheest in The Sound, “This conference series is a major contribution to Sufism, and the International Association of Sufism directors and staff must be remembered in our hearts and in our prayers for their vision and hard work in preparing this incomparable gift to us all.” (The Sound, April Issue, p. 7)
This is the first time this most noble association has come together to bring the spirit of religion to one of the most advanced technological in society. The peaceful messages and soothing suggestions are free from the attachments of the material worlds.
The hard work of the Association finally flourished by bringing the masters of turuq of tasawouf from far away and close by lands to share their knowledge, experience, teachings and words of wisdom with a wide variety of attendees. Some of which were familiar with the school of Sufism and some were not, but these teachers and organizers made everyone feel at home. One of our members shared a note written to him about the Symposium. It reads:
I came to this conference and spent the whole day among many Sufi members and teachers and listened to them. At first I felt out of place with all these foreign looking people, their accents, their clothing, etc. But their words, warmth, and smiles rang true in my soul and made me feel at home in a strange land…. even in one of the lectures, I was so moved by a speaker who touched my soul so deeply that I actually wept.
We all wept, we all became enlightened by the beauty and knowledge of Sufism. These significant free spirited teachers brought their knowledge, wealth and richness and shared it with everyone, in exchange they were honored to be among the servants of the Divine. The knowledge of religion is not a product to sell, it is not there to satisfy the selfishness of the ego. It is a divine gift to the deserving, the fortunate are the ones who are honored to receive such a gift, to share with all, and dedicate their beings to humanity.
I have learned that this is the path of the Divine, and the Divine desires what He wills. All who have attended had a divine mission, they brought the message of peace, ethics, morality, and self knowledge to promote the spiritual and moral advancement of humanity. The spirit of cooperation, communication, devotion, and friendship I saw impressed many. If that is truly the meaning of Sufism, then this world would be a beautiful place if we were all Sufis.
I have also learned that these people who organized this event and who attended, they, too, will be remembered as the founders of Sufism in America; they, too, will be remembered for their dedication, devotion and vision. And, they, too, will find their suitable receivers and listeners during the course of time and space. This Symposium marks the beginning of a new era, and it will be recorded in the pages of history so that it too will find its suitable place.
The proceeding was an expert from an article which appeared in the journal Sufism: An Inquiry(Vol V, No. 2) written by Seyyedeh Hamaseh Kianfar.