Portland State College. Social Science Department
Term of Graduation
Date of Publication
Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)
1 online resource (3, vi, 50 pages)
The word mysticism in the English language has been corrupted and abused by its difference usages in the various disciplines such as religion, poetry, and philosophy. In Islam the only word which refers to a mystic is a Sufi. Sufism, according to its adherents, is the highest form of human experience, the ultimate reality of God. The Sufi theme is "Know thyself and thou wilt know God."
Sufism has been considered by Sufis and by Orientalists as the ancient school of wisdom, of quietism, of attaining the highest union and of purification of the soul. It embodies the strains of various philosophies and religions. These strains are Christian, Neo-Platonic, Gnostic and Indian ascetic and religious philosophy.
The Naqshabandi tariqa stresses the importance and knowledge of the preceding shaykhs, their character and their virtues. Knowledge of the silsila (chain) which traces its inception to Muhammad is also very important. This is most significant to the murid (follower), because he must submit to the shaykh and trust him implicitly in order to model his life after him, leading him to spiritual virtue. Not only spiritual virtue is transmitted through the chain but the gift of grace, given by God, to the one who repents and lives according to the tariqa. That is to say, the silsila functions as a communicator between the hearts and the Light of God, which is grace.
Having achieved this stage and with the art of concentration and contemplation, the true believer can know God. Thus the aim of contemplation, is spiritual union with the One. It is achieved when the murid practices the doctrine of the Naqshabandis, that of Repentance, Dhikr and Prayers of the Masters. There are prescribed rituals and practices in this attainment that must be adhered to religiously. However, this fulfillment is not within reach of every murid, but the Naqshabandis claim that reciting the dhikr (litany) is the easiest and simplest path to the One. What is discussed here are three important inter-related aspects of the Naqshabandi tariqa: doctrine, spiritual virtue (moral and ethical), and an art of concentration.
The question now is what are the social implications of Sufism? Sufism sprang and was nurtured, as in other religions, as a result of general conditions and causes within the structures of the society. Sufism was not only one of the factors that expressed the spirit of society in religious and social terms, it was also a way of life to a Muslim. When man in society finds anxieties and conflicts in a given path, there has to be alternate routes of departure, if not, then some conceptualization of thoughts and ideas must stem to fill the vacuum for him. If there are too many external obstacles, then an internal reign takes a hold to give meaning and order to man’s existence and self fulfillment. If man cannot find spiritual and intellectual answers inwardly, he must find order and meaning in the external world. The balances must be met in society and the Naqshabandi Sufi found it in concentration and contemplation.
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Habib, Madelain Farah, "The Doctrine of the Naqshabandi Order: A Study of Mysticism in Islam" (1966). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 59.
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