In this deeply learned work, Toshihiko Izutsu compares the metaphysical and mystical thought-systems of Sufism and Taoism and discovers that, although historically unrelated, the two share features and patterns which prove fruitful for a transhistorical dialogue. His original and suggestive approach opens new doors in the study of comparative philosophy and mysticism. Izutsu begins with Ibn 'Arabi, analyzing and isolating the major ontological concepts of this most challenging of Islamic thinkers. Then, in the second part of the book, Izutsu (...) turns his attention to an analysis of parallel concepts of two great Taoist thinkers, Lao-tzu and Chuang-tzu. Only after laying bare the fundamental structure of each world view does Izutsu embark, in the final section of the book, upon a comparative analysis. Only thus, he argues, can he be sure to avoid easy and superficial comparisons. Izutsu maintains that both the Sufi and Taoist world views are based on two pivots--the Absolute Man and the Perfect Man--with a whole system of oncological thought being developed between these two pivots. Izutsu discusses similarities in these ontological systems and advances the hypothesis that certain patterns of mystical and metaphysical thought may be shared even by systems with no apparent historical connection. This second edition of Sufism and Taoism is the first published in the United States. The original edition, published in English and in Japan, was prized by the few English-speaking scholars who knew of it as a model in the field of comparative philosophy. Making available in English much new material on both sides of its comparison, Sufism and Taoism richly fulfills Izutsu's motivating desire "to open a new vista in the domain of comparative philosophy.". (shrink)
"Henry Corbin's works are the best guide to the visionary tradition.... Corbin, like Scholem and Jonas, is remembered as a scholar of genius. He was uniquely equipped not only to recover Iranian Sufism for the West, but also to defend the principal Western traditions of esoteric spirituality."--From the introduction by Harold Bloom Ibn 'Arabi (1165-1240) was one of the great mystics of all time. Through the richness of his personal experience and the constructive power of his intellect, he made (...) a unique contribution to Shi'ite Sufism. In this book, which features a powerful new preface by Harold Bloom, Henry Corbin brings us to the very core of this movement with a penetrating analysis of Ibn 'Arabi's life and doctrines. Corbin begins with a kind of spiritual topography of the twelfth century, emphasizing the differences between exoteric and esoteric forms of Islam. He also relates Islamic mysticism to mystical thought in the West. The remainder of the book is devoted to two complementary essays: on "Sympathy and Theosophy" and "Creative Imagination and Creative Prayer." A section of notes and appendices includes original translations of numerous Su fi treatises. Harold Bloom's preface links Sufi mysticism with Shakespeare's visionary dramas and high tragedies, such as The Tempest and Hamlet . These works, he writes, intermix the empirical world with a transcendent element. Bloom shows us that this Shakespearean cosmos is analogous to Corbin's "Imaginal Realm" of the Sufis, the place of soul or souls. (shrink)
The first part of this article is a short introduction into Sufism, seen as a unique mode of expressing the internal, mystical dimension of Islam. In this section, the history, doctrine and ritual practice of the main dervish communities have been considered. In the second part, predominantly based on the author's preliminary field study of the extant dervish communities in Bosnia-Herzegovina, more attention has been dedicated to the revival of Islamic mysticism in a contemporary context. In terms of sociology (...) of religion, the revitalization of Sufism in Bosnia-Herzegovina could be understood within the broader framework of the revival of classical religiosity in the Balkans. After World War Two, the activities of the dervish orders in Bosnia were prohibited, mainly due to the modernist Islamic community supported by the ruling structures. This, of course, should be taken into consideration when discussing the issue of Islamic orthodoxy versus mysticism. A complete renewal of Sufism has taken place in the 1990s, after the dissolution of Yugoslavia and completion of the war. Therefore, one is dealing here with the renewal of classical religiosity, because Sufism had been developed within Orthodox Islam in Bosnia since the Ottoman period. (shrink)
Sufism - spiritual practice, intellectual discipline, literary tradition, and social institutionhas played an integral role in the moral formation of Muslim society. Its aspiration toward a universal kindness to all creatures beyond the requirements of Islamic law has added a distinctly hypernomian dimension to the moral vision of Islam, as evidenced in a wide range of Sufi literature. The universal perspective of Sufism, fully rooted in Islamic revelation, yields a lived (and not just studied) ethics with the potential (...) to view and embrace all creatures through a single ethical vision, regardless of religious or other affiliation. This side of Islam, both acknowledging and surpassing the outlook of the legal heritage, offers important insight into understanding the nature of Muslim society as both Islamic and metaIslamic in religious orientation. Sufism, still significant in today's Islamic world, thus offers important material for locating Islam as part of an international order with principles and standards that resonate deeply with the moral vision of Islam itself. (shrink)
Many different meanings are attributed to the term Sufi. From the philosophical standpoint the sufi sect leans towards the mystic tradition, while taken etymologically the word implies anything which is extracted from wool. Sufi was the term applied to those individuals who went through life wearing a woolen gown, spending their life in mediation and prayer. Other scholars are of the opinion that the terms sufi is derived from the root “Suffa” which is applicable to the platform built by Mohammad (...) in the mosque at Madina. Hence the term sufi applied to those benevolent and pure but homeless people who spent their time sitting on this platform and meditating upon this life and the hereafter. According to Gazzzali , the term sufi implies a man’s remaining at peace with the world, in mediation upon God. We can say that the Sufis are example of pure spiritual discipline which require a sense of dedication and humanity to get the ultimate goal of life i.e. self-realisation. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: This article aims to study Sufism (taṣawwuf) and inspiration (ilhâm), which is the main means of the mystical knowledge, in the thought of Ibn Taymiyya who is known generally as an exponent of a tradition grounded on the understanding of Salaf. He is considered by majority to be a rigid opponent of Sufism because of his unconventional interpretations of Sufi terminology. Also, since Ibn Taymiyya constantly offers the Qur’ān, ḥadīth, and the opinions of Salaf as the base (...) of religious knowledge, the idea that he does not lean toward inspirational and rational knowledge and he does not give a place for them in his epistemology came out and has grown in the course of time. As a result of our research, however, we realize Ibn Taymiyya admits the epistemological value of inspiration along with Sufism conditionally. While he divides Sufism into Early and Later periods, he examines inspiration in the context of knowledge (bâb al-ʿilm) which is considered to be a subcategory of supernatural events. Ibn Taymiyya, who believes that inspirational knowledge must be tested by means of the Qur’ān, Sunna, and the opinions of Salaf, without rejecting its reality, assesses the subject matter in detail through his own criteria. Therefore, this article, in which the subject is elaborated critically and descriptively, focuses on the approach of Ibn Taymiyya to Sufism and inspiration that is the basic element of Sufi knowledge. -/- SUMMARY: Ibn Taymiyya, who is one of the most influential, productive, and controversial Muslim scholars in history of Islam, exerted sincerely to find out the best and the most reliable way of acquiring religious knowledge. Through his fruitful works, his enormous knowledge of the Qur’ān, ḥadīth, Kalām, and Islamic and Greek philosophy can be witnessed. His works where his epistemological, theological, and philosophical statements are found dispersedly, are dealing with many issues such as revelation, the human intellect, inspiration (ilhām), Sufism, Aristotelian logic, the doctrines of Shia sect, methods of commentary of the Qur’ān, ḥadīth, creation of the world, the divine names and attributes, jihad, and juridical ones. Of all issues about which Ibn Taymiyya provided his opinions, Sufism obviously has been one of the most problematic ones. -/- Since Ibn Taymiyya criticizes Ibn al-ʿArabī who is considered to be the Greatest Master in Sufism, he has been acknowledged to be a virulent opponent of Sufism and its complements like knowledge of inspiration- unveiling which is bestowed to the heart of believers by God. It is correct to say that Ibn Taymiyya has objections to the conceptions of unification (ittihād), incarnation (ḥulūl), oneness of the existence (waḥdat al-wujūd), the fixed entities (aʿyān al-thābita), and the seal of the friends of God (khatam al-awliyā’) all of which are encountered abundantly in the studies of Ibn al-ʿArabī and Sufism. In addition to these conceptions, Ibn Taymiyya refutes kinds of unification including general unification and particular or specific unification. -/- Through detailed investigations of the works of Ibn Taymiyya it is possible to realize that Ibn Taymiyya elaborates Sufism under the categories of Early Sufism and Later Sufism. The Later Sufism, which is mostly heretical, is also elaborated with the distinction of philosophical and practical aspects. Furthermore, it is realized that along with criticisms of the practical aspects, his objections intensify on the philosophical Sufism, which may be called pantheistic, monistic, and metaphysical Sufism, imported noticeably from non-Islamic sources like Greek philosophy, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism. While Ibn Taymiyya persistently defends that the validity of Sufism depends on obedience to the Qur’ān and ḥadīth only, he interprets in his own way the conceptions of the friendship of God and inspiration (ilhām). According to Ibn Taymiyya, those, who are counted among the Early Sufism methodologically, even if not historically, like ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Jīlānī, Sahl Ibn al-Tusterī, and Maʿrūf al-Karkhī follow the Qur’ān and ḥadīth precisely. -/- As for inspiration itself as a way of acquisition of knowledge, it is worth noting that in Ibn Taymiyya’s teaching inspiration or unveiling (kashf) is not argued concerning its reality. It is neither a sort of active communication nor is it a superstition. On the contrary, Ibn Taymiyya suggests that inspiration is a kind of supernatural events (khawāriq), which can be seen as an effect (ta’thīr) or knowledge (ʿilm). In this respect, inspiration is examined under the category of knowledge. He believes that when God has lifted the cover from the heart of believers, the heart will be under the control of God. As a result of this divine control, the servants can find out the correct, valid, and permissible way to follow. Thus, Ibn Taymiyya, who classifies inspirational knowledge as divine (raḥmānī) and devilish (shayṭānī), emphasizes importance of religious and spiritual training for purification of the heart. -/- When the validity or acceptability of inspirational knowledge is in question, Ibn Taymiyya offers a test in the light of the Qur’ān, ḥadīth, and the opinions of the Salaf. According to him, the soundness of inspirational knowledge can be verified as long as it is weighed on the scale of these sources of Islamic sources. The reason for offering a test to verify the accuracy of inspirational knowledge received by a person is based on his idea that receiving inspirational knowledge is not an indication of being one of the friends of God at all. According to Ibn Taymiyya, it is very possible to perform or receive inspirational knowledge as a supernatural event not only for the friends of God but also for polytheists, disbelievers, people of the Book, and people of the innovation. He, as is said above, does not argue the validity of inspiration concerning its epistemological reality and value. What is more, he would rather give precedence to inspirational knowledge over weak ḥadīth reports, weak argumentations, and weak analogies. Therefore, it can be said that if we had to constitute an epistemological hierarchy of Ibn Taymiyya, it would be something like that the revelation, the human intellect, and inspiration, respectively. Finally, it may be propounded that even if there are several conditions to accept inspirational knowledge, it is a reality in Ibn Taymiyya’s epistemology. (shrink)
Most Western scholars define Sufism as the spirituality of Islam or the mystical version of Islam. It is thought to be the inward approach to Islam that emerged and flourished in the non-Arab parts of the Islamic world. Most scholars like William Stoddart think that Sufism is to Islam what Yoga is to Hinduism, Zen to Buddhism, and mysticism to Christianity.1 In this essay, I will shed light on the major lines and elements in the philosophy of (...) class='Hi'>Sufism. I will try to give a concrete account of Sufism by introducing its major features within the relevant Islamic tradition and history. (shrink)
Sufism, as a mystic sect of Islam, can be defined as a philosophy of inner experience. The process of inner thought and experience plays an important role in sufism. Existentialism is also a philosophy of being. In existentialism being cannot be rationalized; it can be experienced in a personal venture which philosophy is the way to achieve. The aim of this paper is to compare sufi philosophers with theist existentialist philosophers mainly on the concept of person. How religious (...) elements play a role in forming the concept of person in each philosophical system is investigated by means of several basic parameters such as being, existence, transcendent self, despair, death, knowledge and freedom. Both in sufism and theological existentialism a religious significance is given to the concept of existence. In both philosophical systems, the finitude a person experiences in this world drives one to an alienation from one's essential being to the more profound dread of guilt and anxiety, and salvation can be reached by the unification of oneself with God. (shrink)
This paper argues that within the Islamic mystical tradition of Sufism lies an important perspective for approaching human rights. Sufism, while usually perceived as only dealing with spiritual matters, actually expresses a distinct message of service to mankind, and thus should be examined within the discussion of Islam and human rights. Along with Sufism's emphasis on service, the Sufi message of unity with God, and specifically the message of recognizing the existence of God in all creatures resonate (...) soundly within the human rights discourse. With these points in mind, Sufi philosophy heightens the importance of human rights, while also allowing for self-construction regarding issues of human rights, and should be considered as another approach within the Islamic framework that is highly compatible with international human rights. (shrink)
In discussing the intricate and somewhat complex relationship between Shiʻism and Sufism, both in principle and essence or in their metahistorical reality as well as in time and history, we need hardly concern ourselves with the too often repeated criticism made by certain orientalists who would doubt the Islamic and Quranic character of both Shiʻism and Sufism. Basing themselves on an a priori assumption that Islam is not a revelation and, even if a religion, is only a simple (...) ‘religion of the sword’ for a simple desert people, such would-be critics brush aside as un-Islamic all that speaks of gnosis and esotericism, pointing to the lack of historical texts in the early period as proof of their thesis, as if the non-existent in itself could disprove the existence of something which may have existed without leaving a written trace for us to dissect and analyse today. The reality of Shiʻism and Sufism as integral aspects of the Islamic revelation is too blinding to be neglected or brushed aside by any would-be historical argument. The fruit is there to prove that the tree has its roots in a soil that nourishes it. And the spiritual fruit can only be borne by a tree whose roots are sunk in a revealed truth. To deny this most evident of truths would be as if we were to doubt the Christian sanctity of a St Francis of Assisi because the historical records of the first years of the Apostolic succession are not clear. What the presence of St Francis proves is in reality the opposite fact, namely, that the Apostolic succession must be real even if no historical records are at hand. The same holds true mutatis mutandis for Shiʻism and Sufism. In this paper in any case we will begin by taking for granted the Islamic character of Shiʻism and Sufism and upon this basis delve into their relationship. In fact Shiʻism and Sufism are both, in different ways and on different levels, intrinsic aspects of Islamic orthodoxy, this term being taken not only in its theological sense but in its universal sense as tradition and universal truth contained within a revealed form. (shrink)
This book examines a series of common metaphors in the works of Derrida and the Sufism of Muhyddin Ibn 'Arabi, considered to be of the most influential figures in Islamic thought. The author addresses the significant absence of attention on the relationship between Islam and Derrida and also provides a deconstructive perspective on Ibn 'Arabi.
Originally published in 1950. Thinkers such as Ghazali and Ibn `Arabi, poets such as Ibn al-Farid, Rumi, Hafiz and Jami were greatly inspired by the lives and sayings of the early Sufis. This book was the first short history of Sufism to be published in any language, illustrating the development of its doctrines with numerous quotations from literature.
History is largely about rooting out anachronisms. One that bedevils the history of Sufism is an unsurprising tendency to project later forms backward. Our idea of who was a Sufi in the ninth century tends to come from the Ṭabaqāt al-ṣūfīya of the Naysābūran al-Sulamī and a few other books, some dependent on his. Sulamī begins his first generation with notices of al-Fuḍayl ibn ʿIyāḍ, Ibrāhīm ibn Adham, Ḏū l-Nūn, Bišr al-Ḥāfī, Sarī al-Saqaṭī, and al-Muḥāsibī – the usual big (...) names for the late eighth century and, mainly, early ninth. Massignon ’s lineage of Sufism stays almost entirely within this line, and indeed I have no serious quarrel with it as a lineage of classical Ǧunaydī Sufism. (shrink)
Islamic fundamentalism is a product of modernity. Its constitution as the hegemonic discourse of modern Islam was accomplished in the course of the twentieth century over against two Others: the external Other of the West and the internal Other of tradition, especially its mystical aspect – Sufism. The article claims, however, that the fundamentalists' critique of Sufism as backward, superstitious, and apolitical involved the collective forgetting of the leading role that Ṣūfī reformist brotherhoods had filled in premodern Islam (...) and in their own upbringing. In this light the Salafī discourse and popular socioreligious movements such as the Muslim Brothers appear as modern transformations rather than negations of Sufism. On the other hand, contemporary Sufism has constituted itself as the modern Other of the hegemonic Islamic fundamentalism. The fundamentalist estrangement from Sufism, and Islamic tradition at large, engendered a dialectics of unenlightenment culminating in the present radicalization of Islam. (shrink)
In this volume Henry Corbin emphasizes the differences between the exoteric and esoteric forms of Islam. He also reveals that whereas in the West philosophy and religion were at odds, they were inseparably linked, at least during this period, in the Islamic world. A valuable section of notes and appendices includes original translation of numerous Sufi treatises.
When the Taliban destroyed the famous statues of the Buddha in the Bamiyan Valley in Afghanistan more than a decade ago, the outrage of the global community, including that of prominent Muslim religious leaders, was matched perhaps only by the pious euphoria of Afghanistan’s hardliners. They had finally succeeded in removing visible signs of idolatry from their landscape, and fulfilled, at least in their own eyes, a long overdue religious mission. In the words of the Taliban leader Mullah Omar, “Muslims (...) should be proud to destroy idols. Our destroying them was an act of praise for God.”1Yet such extreme acts of puritanical iconoclasm at the hands of Muslim fundamentalists, at least within modern history, have more.. (shrink)