Sufism , mystical Islamic belief and practice in which Muslims seek to find the truth of divine love and knowledge through direct personal experience of God. It consists of a variety of mystical paths that are designed to ascertain the nature of humanity and of God and to facilitate the experience of the presence of divine love and wisdom in the world.
Though the roots of Islamic mysticism formerly were supposed to have stemmed from various non-Islamic sources in ancient Europe and even India , it now seems established that the movement grew out of early Islamic asceticism that developed as a counterweight to the increasing worldiness of the expanding Muslim community; only later were foreign elements that were compatible with mystical theology and practices adopted and made to conform to Islam. By educating the masses and deepening the spiritual concerns of the Muslims, Sufism has played an important role in the formation of Muslim society.
Opposed to the dry casuistry of the lawyer-divines, the mystics nevertheless scrupulously observed the commands of the divine law. The Sufis have been further responsible for a large-scale missionary activity all over the world, which still continues. Sufis have elaborated the image of the Prophet Muhammad —the founder of Islam—and have thus largely influenced Muslim piety by their Muhammad-mysticism.
The thirtieth day of the fast, he shed blood. Gorakh says that God is inside every one. Hit he who calls you Hindu! We are born neither Hindu nor Muslim. You keep fasting; why not search inside yourself? Whom shall we call black, white? The veil which concealed has been lifted. Burn a Hindu stretched out, bury a Muslim stretched out. Thus, the Mohammad Bodh ends. Found mainly in the western districts, they wander far and wide. Among them, some well-known heroes are characterised by a somewhat ambiguous relation to Islam. All three secured the victory of a Muslim conqueror with to their blessings.
Another episode shows Ratan quenching the thirst of the whole army of the conqueror with the water contained in his begging bowl in order to show the greatness of yoga to the Muslim sovereign!
In some versions of the legend, the anecdote is linked to Mahmud of Ghazni, without any afterthought for his reputation for iconoclasm. Who are the true devotees? Give me, God, the knowledge. He then asked him for his blessing and the favour of victory in his upcoming battle. His tomb in Bhatinda can be dated back to the early thirteenth century. Stories circulate about his death, or rather his disappearance, since both Hindu and Muslim devotees lay claim to his remains, although only his clothes were found to bury.
The resolution of the dilemma happened in a strange way: he became a Muslim! Relinquish all worldly desires. He gave him the duty to take care of the meals. The god turned his head away. Admitting his fault, he asked for forgiveness.
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The Lord tied the cooking pot around his neck and sent him away. In such a guise he went to settle in a cave in Karnataka. Bhairom chanced to appear that day in person and refused the food. They shared common references and they could inhabit the same universe. Claiming to be above sectarian divisions—even superior to them in a sense—they were open-minded and inclusive. Lowe, ed. Bharthwal, Pitambardatta ed. Paris: Maisonneuve et Larose: pp. Jacobsen ed. Ernst, Carl W.
Gilmartin, David; Lawrence, Bruce B. Shapiro eds. Goswamy, B. Horovitz, J. In Hellenistic culture c. A new impetus and fresh approach to ascetic practices including emasculation came with the expansion of the Oriental mystery religions such as the cult of the Great Mother in the Mediterranean area. In India, in the late Vedic period c. According to Jainism , liberation becomes possible only when all passions have been exterminated.
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But his basic tenet, which held that suffering lies in causal relation with desires, promoted asceticism in Buddhism. The portrait of the Buddhist monk as depicted in the Vinaya a collection of monastic regulations is of one who avoids extreme asceticism in his self-discipline. The kind of monasticism that developed in Hinduism during the medieval period also was moderate. Asceticism generally has no significant place in the indigenous religions of China Confucianism and Taoism. Only the priests in Confucianism practiced discipline and abstinence from certain foods during certain periods, and some movements within Taoism observed similar marginally ascetic practices.
Judaism , because of its view that God created the world and that the world including man is good, is nonascetic in character and includes only certain ascetic features, such as fasting for strengthening the efficacy of prayer and for gaining merit. Though some saw a proof of the holiness of life in some ascetic practices, a fully developed ascetical system of life has remained foreign to Jewish thought, and ascetic trends could, therefore, appear only on the periphery of Judaism.
Such undercurrents rose to surface among the Essenes , a monastic sect associated with the Dead Sea Scrolls , who represented a kind of religious order practicing celibacy, poverty, and obedience. In Zoroastrianism founded by the Persian prophet Zoroaster , 7th century bc , there is officially no place for asceticism. In the Avesta, the sacred scriptures of Zoroastrianism, fasting and mortification are forbidden, but ascetics were not entirely absent even in Persia.
In Christianity all of the types of asceticism have found realization. In the Gospels asceticism is never mentioned, but the theme of following the historical Christ gave asceticism a point of departure.
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An ascetic view of the Christian life is found in the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians in his use of the image of the spiritual athlete who must constantly discipline and train himself in order to win the race. Abstinence, fasts, and vigils in general characterized the lives of the early Christians, but some ramifications of developing Christianity became radically ascetic. Some of these movements, such as the Encratites an early ascetic sect , a primitive form of Syrian Christianity, and the followers of Marcion, played important roles in the history of early Christianity.
During the first centuries ascetics stayed in their communities, assumed their role in the life of the church, and centred their views of asceticism on martyrdom and celibacy. Toward the end of the 3rd century, monasticism originated in Mesopotamia and Egypt and secured its permanent form in cenobitism communal monasticism.
After the establishment of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire after ad , monasticism was given a new impetus and spread all over the Western world. In Roman Catholicism new orders were founded on a large scale. Though asceticism was rejected by the leaders of the Protestant Reformation , certain forms of asceticism did emerge in Calvinism, Puritanism, Pietism, early Methodism, and the Oxford Movement an Anglican movement of the 19th century espousing earlier ecclesiastical ideals.
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See Article History. Alternative Titles: renunciation, self-denial. Read More on This Topic.