Liberal legacy of Sufism
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Liberal legacy of Sufism

Let us recall the legacy of Sufism that fostered a more humanistic and liberal approach to inter-religious understanding.

india Updated: Feb 20, 2006 11:33 IST

Man tu shudam,
Tu man shudi,
Man tan shudam tu jaan
Takas nagoyad ba azeem man deegaram tu deegari.

I have become you and you have become me,
In my body is your soul,
May none say hereafter that you and I are different beings, wrote Amir Khusrau.
The message is that “One who dies for the love of Truth (God) dies a Sufi (Pure)- and Sufis never die.” Sufi liberalism had other important aspects. While music and dance, dear to the Indian soul, were anathema to the ulema, they were encouraged in Sufi hospices. Sufi music is full of passionate devotion to God, the unity of body-and-soul and the oneness of mankind. Realising these truths leads to haal or a state of mystic exaltation.

The Sufis incorporated aspects of Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Christianity freely into their teaching. They took concepts such as Moksha from Hinduism and Nirvana from Buddhism. The Sufi doctrines of Fana and Baqa (annihilation and subsistence) correspond to Nirvana.

Hasan al-Basri (d.728) the earliest Sufi, disdained both riches and power as the Sufis had no love for worldly pleasures or gains. The Qadiri order was amongst the most tolerant and progressive Sufi orders and Abdal-Qadir Jilani, the great saint, emphasized these ten tenets of human behaviour:

Never swear by God,
Never speak an untruth even in jest,
Never break a promise Never curse anyone,
Never harm anyone,
Never accuse anyone of religious infidelity,
Never be party to anything sinful,
Never impose a burden on others,
Never accept anything from human beings,
God alone is the giver’ Look for the good points and not the bad, in others.

Muinuddin Chishti, the saint of Ajmer, never discriminated by religion. On the contrary he encouraged Hindu bairagis to sing hymns in his presence and prescribed the dark orange colour of the coarse robes of his devotees. Let us recall this legacy of Sufism that fostered a more humanistic and liberal approach to inter-religious understanding.

First Published: Feb 20, 2006 11:33 IST