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Classical Persian Sufism from its Origins to Rumi (700-1300)

This book contains the proceedings of a conference organized by the Nimatullahi Order on "Classical Persian Sufism: From its Origin to Rumi", held at the George Washington University from 11-13 th May, 1992. The chapters in this book analyze such diverse themes as "Literary and Historical Beginnings", "Sufi Masters and Schools","Metaphysics and Hermeneutics", "Literature and Poetry","Divine Love, Sainthood, Spiritual Disciplines and Stations", and "Spiritual Chivalry and Malamati Spirituality". More than anything, this book is a revelation of the richness of the sufi contribution to Persian culture, and captures well the mood of the mystics' meditative vision of Islam.


Excerpt from Classical Persian Sufism from its Origins to Rumi (700-1300)

A speech given by Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh at the conference proceedings entitled:
The Key Features of Sufism in the Early Islamic Period

2. Divine Live

As its basic assumption, Sufism teaches that Reality cannot be known by logical or rational methods. God must be approached through love, and only through divine grace and favour may intimacy with Him be attained. From the perspective of the sufis, as long as 'you' remain 'yourself', you cannot know God: the greatest veil between you and Reality being 'yourself'. Only the fire of divine love can burn away this egocentricity. Moreover, such divine love appears spontaneously; it cannot be learned through study.

Divine love may arise in the sufi in one of two ways: 1) through divine attraction (jadhba) and 2) through wayfaring and methodical progression on the Path (sayr wa suluk). By 'attraction', God's love arises within the sufi directly, without intermediary, so that the sufi forgets everything but God. By the second route, that of wayfaring and methodical progression on the Path, the sufi becomes devotedly in love with the spiritual master, who then transforms this love into divine love. To present another simile, the sufi sets out in search of a spiritual master, holding in hand the lantern of the Search for Truth; then the master kindles the flame of his lamp with the breath of his own holy spirit, causing the sufi to burn with divine love. Hafiz (d. 791/1389) alludes to this in the following verse:

In this intense heat which scorches our insane heart
The straw of one hundred dry intellects
would burn up in an instant.


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