The Fundamentals of Sufism

Rehman Anwer, the author of ‘The Fundamentals of Sufism’ is a descendent of a Sufi saint, Hazrat Dr. Habib ur Rehman Burq. He was also chosen as his successor (Sajjada Nashin), a position that brings with it a quite a bit of public interest and also an imposition of communal responsibility.

Anwar’s book is a succinct compendium on the weighty philosophy of Sufism and provides a fresh outlook as well as a fitting introduction to the core tenants of Sufism. Published by Mehvash Amin’s Broken Leg Publications, the book clarifies some popular myths about Sufism, explores the significant role of female Sufis and also discusses some of the criticisms aimed at the philosophy. Following are some excerpts from this illuminating book.

Artwork by Rahim Baloch

On How a Sufi Sees the World

“Sufis see the world as no more than a transition period and long for a time to reunite with the divine, a longing to merge into that greater tide of the ocean, leaving no signs of their own existence behind. For them, the human soul is an emanation of the light of God and it has to finally merge back into that greater light”.

On Mahabbah (Love) in Sufism

“Love is the legacy of the Sufis. Looking at Sufi traditions in various times and places, their emphasis has always been on honouring and loving humans irrespective of colour, creed, religion or social status. The whole conception of ‘Unity of Being’ is based on a devoted and intense state of love called Ishq. Early Sufis all stressed the central importance of Ishq in the pursuit of reaching the divine. Al-Hallaj has called Ishq ‘ a fire, the light of a first fire’.

On Female Sufis

“Early Sufi women in Islam laid the foundations for women’s participation in Sufism. The history of Islam presents a number of women mystics who achieved high status in the spiritual order. Rabia al-Addawiyya (Rabia Basri) was one of the most influential Sufi saints of the eighth century. She was an intellectual who taught men and women and left a strong legacy for Muslim women to follow in her footsteps in order to attain spiritual elevation”.

On Sufism in Contemporary Times

“The popularity of Sufi saints and poets like Hafiz and Rumi have been on the rise. Rumi is considered to be the most widely read and admired poet in the West despite growing swells of Islamophobia. The acceptance of these Muslim poets in such a hostile anti-Islam environment is probably because their poetry is taken as the work of free-thinking mystics who rarely cared about their institutional religion. On the contrary their poetry was only a manifestation of their perspective to find the truth and never contradicted Islamic principles’

Rehman Anwer, author of ‘The Fundamentals of Sufism’

The book is available at Readings, as well as Kayal in Islamabad and Karachi.

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