Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Books....key concepts in the practice of SUFISM : M Fetthullah Gulen

Fethullah Gulen,(born 27 April 1941) is a Turkish author, thinker,educator, and Muslim scholar.  Written over 60 books and currently in self exile in USA.
Over the  recent KDYMM's long holiday weekend, I had a 'bite' of him in between swimming with the fishes and pondering over-mostly dead corals off Tioman Island. [ Some 20 years back Tioman was teeming with live corrals and turtles !  ]

Fethullah Gulen has not being known to belong to any  tarekat/ tassawwuf movement and his  Islamic views are ' mainstream ' conservative  but with a  'big dose' of sufi bent.
Let us 'delve into his mind' on one of  the many sufi concepts, known in Arabic as ' huzn' [ sadness or sorrow ] :

Sufis use the word 'huzn' [ sadness ] as the opposite of rejoicing and joy, and to express the pain one suffers while fulfilling his or her duties and realizing his or her ideals. Every perfected believer will continue to suffer this pain according to the degree of belief, and weave the tissue of life with the 'threads' of sadness on the 'loom' of time. In short, one will feel sadness until the spirit of the Muhammadan Truth is breathed in all corners of the world, the sighing of Muslims and other oppressed peoples ceases, and the Divine rules are practiced in the daily lives of people.

This sadness will continue until the journey through the intermediate world of the grave is completed, safe and sound, and the believer flies to the abode of eternal happiness and blessing without being detained by the Supreme Tribunal in the Hereafter. A believer's  sorrow will never stop until the meaning of : Praise be to God, Who has put grief away from us. Surely our Lord is All-Forgiving, Bountiful [ 35 : 34 ] becomes manifest.

Sorrow or sadness arises from an individual's perception of what it means to be human, and grows in proportion to the degree of insight and discernment possessed by one who is conscious of his or her humanity. It is a necessary, significant dynamic that causes a believer to turn to the Almighty and, perceiving the realities that cause sadness, seek refuge in Him and appeal to Him for help whenever he or she is helpless.

A believer aspires to the precious and valuable things, such as God's pleasure and eternal happiness, and therefore seeks to do a "very profitable business" with the limited means in a short span of time [his or her life]. The sorrows a believer experiences due to illness and pain, as well as various afflictions and misfortunes, resemble an effective medicine that wipes away one's sins and enables the eternalization of what is temporary, as well as the expansion of one's "drop-like' merit into an ocean. It can be said that a believer whose life has been spent in continous sadness resembles, to a certain degree, the prophets, for they also spent their lives in this state. How meaningful it is that the glory of mankind, upon him be peace and blessings, who spent his life in sorrow, is rightly described as the Prophet of Sorrow by Necib Fazil, the famous Turkish poet and writer......................

The truthful and confirmed one, upon him be peace and blessings, says that grief arising from worldly misfortune causes sins to be forgiven [kaffarah]. Based on this statement, one can see how valuable and meritorious are the sorrows arising from one's sins, from the fear and love of God., and pertaining to the Hereafter. Some feel sorrow because they do not perform their duties of worship as perfectly as they showed. They are ordinary believers.
Others, who are among the distinguished, are sad because they are drawn toward that which is other than God. Still others feel sad because, while they themselves feel to be always in God's presence and never forgot Him, they are also spending time amongst people in order to guide them to the Truth. They tremble with fear that they may upset the balance between always being with God and being in the company of people. These are the purified ones who are responsible for guiding the people.

The first prophet, Adam, upon him be peace, was the father of humanity and Prophets, and the Father of Sorrow. He began his worldly life with sorrow: the fall from Paradise, Paradise lost, separation from  God, and, theafter the heavy responsibility of Prophethood. He sighed with sorrow throughout his life. Prophet Noah, upon him be peace, found himself  enveloped by sorrow  when he became a Prophet. The waves of sorrow coming from the absolute unbelief of his people and their  impending chastisement by God appeared in his chest as the waves of ocean. A day came, and those waves caused oceans to swell so high that they covered mountains and caused the earth to sink in grief. Prophet Noah  became the Prophet of the Flood.

Prophet Abraham, upon him be peace, was as though programmed according to sorrow: sorrow arising from his struggle with Nimrod, being thrown into fire and living always surrounded by "fires", leaving his wife and son in a desolate valley, being ordered to sacrifice his son, and many other sacred sorrows pertaining to the inner dimensions of reality and meanings of events. All the other Prophets, such as Mosses, David, Solomon, Zachariah, John the Baptist, and Jesus, upon them be peace, experienced life as  a series of assemblage of sorrows, and lived it enveloped with sorrow. The Greatest of the Prophets and his followers tasted the greatest sorrows.

M Fethullah Gulen's Key Concepts In The Practice of SUFISM, published and distributed locally by Saba Islamic Media, is highly readable. If you guys do not mind getting away from the dry, 'seemingly safe' and 'sanitised' version of Salafi /Wahabi  'brand' of Islam, I dare say it is a good intro into the rather  controversial  and much maligned subject  of sufism/tassawwuf.

Related articles in the blog :
1. Happiness revisited,
2. Of Spiritual Winter, Spring, &  Mahabbah....
3. Alone In The Crowd
4. On Life, Dying, & Life After Death..

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