THE ESSENCE OF SUFISM
The word Sufi is derived from the Arabic word ‘suf’ which means ‘wool’ and which refers to the coarse woolen robes that were worn by the Prophet Muhammad and by his close companions. The goal of a Sufi is none other than God Himself. There are signs of God everywhere in the universe and in man himself. In Sufism, the traveler departs from the station of limited knowledge and understanding and takes the journey towards the destination of greater understanding, understating the Divine. The foundation of such a journey is based on the individual’s recognition of his / her own limited knowledge and a desire to expand such knowledge and ultimately surpass its limitation. In passing the successive stages of the journey, the traveler will learn the meaning of Divinity, will become aware and Knowledgeable of the teachings of truth, will pass the levels of purification to discover the meaning of unity which liew hidden behind the veils of multiplicity. And he / she will finally arrive at the stages of heart, all knowledgeable, tranquil and aware to witness Divine illumination.
In the journey of the heart the Sufi, the traveler, becomes enraptured by the magnificent existence of the Divine, the Divine becomes the eternal Beloved and the journey becomes the journey of the lovers towards the Beloved where finally the Sufi declares :
God is Love, Prophet is Love, Religion is Love
From the smallest grain of sand to the highest heavens
All are enraptured in love.
Throughout the world of Sufism, love has become the eternal theme. Sufis have gracefully glorified this theme in their poetry, in their principles, in their songs and practices, to the point that the Sufi proclaims:
Let love exist
No fear if I exist or not
Let this iron change into gold
Rising from this fire of love.
(Moulana Shah Maghsoud, 20th Century Persian Sufi)