The way to inner peace

It is said that in the pre-dawn hours, just before the first thread of light, there is a gentle breeze that encircles the earth. Always traveling just ahead of the light, it is the harbinger of dawn. This is the world that sufism opens up. The world of things so ‘latif’, so subtle that one has to become very still and quiet to catch them. Getting that still is the meaning of Surrender. Getting that still is the meaning of Peace.

The Sufis teach the way to achieve inner peace, the basic principle of which is the purification of the Self. Without the inner spiritual work, religious laws become a haven for those who seek security in dogma and living life in black and white. Sufism opens the world of depth,  color and richness that only our souls can experience. Islam, without the spiritual wisdom conveyed by masters throughout the ages, is like a body without a soul…..an empty box.

Spirituality spills outside of the box. It gets into everything…all the nooks and crannies of our lives, minds and souls. A Sufi sees the Divine in everything….everywhere. For the Sufi, there’s no escaping God.

The daily practices of Islam bring necessary order and discipline to our physical existence. The spiritual practices of sufism, tassawwuf, nurture our soul. Both are necessary for a balanced life. Sufism teaches the importance of balance. The whirling dervishes manifest this most eloquently in their dance.

This spiritual richness of sufism is the aspect that the fundamentalists and extremists consciously extract from their philosopy. When this occurs, Islamic learning becomes dangerously unbalanced. Without the wisdom of its saints and teachers, religion becomes a political hammer wielded by those interested in worldly power. It then no longer resembles the Divine inspiration it was once meant to represent.

For the extremist, Islam is about worldly power. For the sufis, Islam is about spiritual peace and remembrance.

Fundamentalists adamantly oppose the need for a guide. Sufism places a high value on having a spiritual guide. Fundamentalists teach with words. Sufism teaches with a joyful heart. Fundamentalism contracts knowledge, desperately trying to fit it into a box. Sufism expands knowledge, putting no limits on it. The spirit is not threatened by that which does not lie within rigid, narrow definitions, but welcomes that which touches and expands the heart.

Sufism brings the breath of fresh air that Islam originally came with. Peace occurs as a consequence of Divine Grace and Mercy. It is a gift. Like the gentle breeze in the pre-dawn hours which encircles the earth as the harbinger of dawn.

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