The True Mehdi Issue 03 - March - Page 10

SPOTLIGHT SUFISM: A BRIEF HISTORY How Sufism endured through the years. SPOTLIGHT ORIGINS: A lthough he introduced Sufism, Prophet Mohammad was unable to promote it on a significant scale during his reign. Historically, Sufism mostly emerged through Ali ibn Abi Talib, a close Companion of the Prophet Mohammad. When Prophet Mohammad began to preach Islam, he faced opposition from the Arab pagans. This was because he introduced monotheistic beliefs in a society where most people were polytheists. Furthermore, for the bedouins whose tribal culture was rife with racism, misogyny and strict class divides, Prophet Mohammad’s message was revolutionary. He gave hope to those living in poverty, he gave women many rights that they had never been afforded and he declared all Muslims to be brothers and sisters to each other regardless of their race. He shook the very foundations of the Arab society. Indeed, Prophet Mohammed stated, ‘No Arab is greater than a non-Arab. Today, I crush all these differences under my feet. Greatest is one who is greatest in piety.’ [MUSNAD AHMAD 22391] This earned him fierce enemies in Mecca. He spent most of his time in this world defending the religion of Islam from those who wanted to destroy it. It was only after the Conquest of Mecca in 630 CE that he began to speak openly on the subject of spirituality. After the Conquest of Mecca, he asked his Companions to focus their attention on the ‘Jihad-e-Akbar (The Great Struggle)’ which he declared to be the struggle against their Carnal Selves. Prophet Mohammad said, ‘When you fought against your enemy previously, your enemy was visible and you were able to kill them. You were able to punish them, so it was a relatively lesser Jihad. But now, I turn you towards a greater Jihad in which you cannot see your enemy. Your enemy is inside you.’ [KITAB AZ-ZUHD AL- BAYHAQI 383] However, his demise occurred in 632 10 THE TRUE MEHDI • ISSUE 03 • MAR 2017 CE, just two years after conquering Mecca. Therefore, he was unable to teach spirituality to the wider Muslim community during his lifetime. In one of his last sermons, Prophet Mohammad directed the Muslims to Ali. He said, ‘I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate. For whomsoever I am Moula (Lord), Ali is also their Moula.’ [AL-HAKIM’S MUSTADRAK `ALA AL-SAHIHAYN, VOL. 3, P. 126-7; AL-TIRMIDHI 6082] From this statement, many people came to believe that Prophet Mohammad intended to appoint Ali as the caliph to lead Muslims after him. However, due to intervention from Umar bin Khattab, Prophet Mohammad was never able to voice his final verdict on the matter. 4 Thereafter, Ali began his efforts to raise awareness of spirituality among the Muslims. He did not become the leader of Muslims until after the reigns of Abu Bakr Sadiq, Umar bin Khattab and Usman bin Affan. By the time he came into power, the Muslims were already divided between him and the tyrannical Muawiya ibn Abi Sufyan; rather than being able to preach spirituality openly, he was forced to spend most of his time thwarting conspiracies from Muawiya. Nevertheless, Ali managed to build a base for Sufis to follow. The Suhrawardi, Chishti and Qadri Sufi orders all trace their origins back to Ali. The Naqshbandi order obtained spiritual knowledge through Abu Bakr Sadiq, another close Companion of the Prophet Mohammad and the first of the Rashidun caliphs. 5 4 During his final days, Prophet Mohammad had a strong fever. He told some Companions, ‘Call someone who can write. I would like to give advice about the future of the Muslim nation.’ Umar bin Khattab interrupted, saying that the prophet was too ill to be speaking sense and that the Koran was enough for them. The Companions then began to quar- rel, resulting in Prophet Mohammad asking them all to leave his room, without him giving them his decision regarding the next leader of Muslims. [Sahih Bukhari 7:70:573] 5 ‘ The Rashidun Caliphs’ is a term used for the first four caliphs of Islam. It means ‘Rightly Guided Caliphs’. THE TRUE MEHDI • ISSUE 03 • MAR 2017 11