The Islamic mysticism or Tasawuf, has its origin in the Holy Qur'an and Hadith. Allah says in the Holy Qur'an, "Iam closer to man, than his jugular vein." There is also this oft quoted verse of the Holy Qur'an, "We are from God, and to God is our return." But, Islam does not ask those in its fold, to completely shun the world and live a life of isolation.
It lays great emphasis on man's submitting to the Divine will, contemplating on the Divine attributes, and cultivating them in one's personal life. Sine Allah is one and uniwue, man's spiritual evolution can only bring about his 'increasing approximation to the Divine Life.'
The word sufi is derived from the term sahafa. In the times of the Holy Prophet Hazrat Mohammed (peace be upon Him), the message of Islam was spreading far and wide by missionaries and conquests. The sahafa was one band of men who were totally devoted to prayer and meditation. Worship and search for spiritual perfection was their only aim. Over the centuries the sahafa became those holy men who are now called sufis.
The beautiful land of Sindh is known as the land of 124,000 saints and dervishes, both Muslim and Hindu. It is because of the sufis that Sindh is called the cradle of love and peace. The sufi saints have large following among Muslims and Hindus of every strata. A number of Hindus come from India and other parts of the world to pay homage to different shrines.
There is no place for religious differences among Sufis- and hasn’t been since the centuries old link between the people of Sindh and Sufism.
This spiritualism offers a world without sectarian, ethnic and communal difference. It is due to this hold of mysticism on Sindh culture, there is hardly any religious or sectarian frenzy in the interior of Sindh as compared to other parts of Pakistan.
Sufism has no room for fundamentalism or fanaticism because it has challenged the institution of the mullah. Thus we see that the clergy and the rulers joined hands to crush the world of religious and social co existance, which existed in Jhoke Sharif under Shah Inayat Shaheed.
In sufism any form of intoxication is strictly forbidden. Some magazine articles have printed the misconception that bhang, charas or other form of drugs are acceptable for meditation.
Reading further into the chapter on mysticism in her translation of the selected verses from Shah Jo Risalo into English we learnt from Madam Khamisani that, in the aerly history of Islamic mysticism, only that person was considererd to be a sufi, who sought God’s nearness by adhering to the tenets of Islam as revealed in Quran and Shariah.
Sufi is the one “who has reformed and chastened himself, forsook comforts, kept his mind unsoiled like a mirror, who was apathetic to wordly vicissitudes and indifferent to the material fascinations and who always strove and yearned for union with Allah”. Sufis, therefore, were the means of revitalising Islam among the masses who in turn held them in great esteem for their piety and self-abnegation.
Changes occuring in the world of science, education, environment, manifest themeselves into changes in attitudes and beliefs. The Islamic mysticism also changed. Sufis now, started including Pantheism as part of their faith according to which God and nature are one, thus obliterating the distinction between the Creator and the created, in contradiction of the words of the Qur’an that God is “Unique”, He is supreme and He has no equal. They also did not follow the ritual of five prayers and placed emphasis on intention rather than observance, with the result that they drew upon themselves the wrath of the orthodox.
A further change was brought up in sufism by Ibn Arabi, an Islamic scholar, who considered “all Being as essentially one and the existence of the created things as nothing but the very essence of the existence of the Creator.” This later product of sufism is termed as ‘monism.’