Timeless Sufic Excerpts

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I so love Sufic Tales and Poems. These are words that have been born in a realm other than ours and tease us as to what lies beyond. Reading these sayings provides one with a delectable taste of the spiritual pleasures that a Sufi experiences. One of the best Sufic books I’ve come across is Essential Sufism. I share with you below a few quotes from the book, with the hope that it’ll help me internalise these into practices.

O My Lord, if I worship You from fear of Hell, burn me in Hell; and if I worship You from hope of Paradise, exclude me from Paradise. But if I worship You for Your own sake, do not withhold from me Your Eternal Beauty. ~ Rabia
(This prayer is a modification of an original prayer by Hadhrat Ali (AS))

Act as if there were no one on earth but you and no one in Heaven but God. ~ al Antaki

As long as your lower self rules your heart, you will never lose your love of this world. – Traditional

If you treat your lower self with affection, you will never by saved from it. ~ Traditional

Those who are dead to their lower selves are alive with God. ~ Traditional

Those who are controlled by the lower self must serve it; those who control thee lower self serve others. ~ Traditional

The lower self is like a theif who sneakes into your house at night to steal whatever is valuable and worthwhile. You cannot fight this thief directly, because it will mirror whatever force you bring against it. If you have a gun, the theif will also have a gun. If you have a knife, the thief will have a knife as well. To struggle with the thief is to invite disaster. So, what can you do? The only practical solution is to turn on the light. The thief, who is a coward at heart, will then run out. How do we turn on the light? Through thepractice of remembrance, awareness, and heefulness. ~ Sheikh Tosun Bayrak

A donkey with a load of holy books is still a donkey. ~ Traditional
( I LOVE this quote! )

Each faculty of our delights in that for which it was created;
lust delights in accomplishing desire, anger in taking vengeance,
the eye in seeing beautiful objects, and the ear in hearing harmonious sounds.
The highest function of the soul is the perception of truth. ~ al-Ghazzali

If words come out of the heart, they will enter the heart,
but if they come from the tongue, they will not pass beyond the ears. ~ al-Shurawardi

Jesus (upon whom be peace!) saw the world revealed in the form of an ugly old hag. He asked her how many husbands she had possessed; she replied that they were countless. he asked whether they had died or been divorced; she said that she had slain them all. “I marvel,” he said, “at the fools who see what you have done to others, and still desire you.” ~ al-Ghazzali

6 Comments

  1. Salam alaikum,

    Thank you for sharing these quotes. Regarding the first one, I would like us to start a discussion (not an argument!):

    I think that heaven would be the manifestation of Allah’s pleasure with us and hell the manifestation of His wrath as a consequence of our sin. As part of loving Allah, I think one must fear displeasing Him (thus fearing hell) and seeks conformity and submission to Him. Therefore heaven is merely a byproduct of seeking Allah and worshiping Him for His sake (thus indirectly seeking heaven). However, I definitely agree that a lot of people seem to be seeking heaven for heaven rather than its metaphorical implications and thus worship Allah for materialism rather than for Him.

    Part of why I think this is because whenever I hear this quotation I wonder: “Where in the Holy Koran does it support this statement?” However, this may simply be subject to interpretation. Therefore, I would love it if you (or any other sufi/person who fully agrees with this quote) could express your opinion to enlighten me of alternative viewpoints and interpretations.

    Again, jazakum Allah khairan for all that you share in this wonderful blog,

    Salam

  2. Walaikumasalaam Reema,

    Your profound comment reminded of yet another quote:

    You are more precious than heaven and earth
    You know not your own worth

    Sell not yourself for so little a price
    Being so precious in God’s eyes. ~ Rumi

    Afterall what are Heaven and Hell? Heaven is only but a physical manifestation of a weak ray of Allah (swt). And Hell; Hell is the outcome of just one angry glance of Allah SWT. If one weak ray can result in something so grandeur as Heaven, the beauty of the Rab ul Alameen Himself would be spectacular indeed. (Ofcourse His wrath would be horrendous too).

    You are so right when you say that “Heaven is the manifestation of Allah’s pleasure with us and Hell the manifestation of His wrath as a consequence of our sin”. Infact, I couldn’t put it this clearly and succinctly myself. What worth are University Phd books to a Kindergarten student. Similarly what value do Lush Lawns and Babbling Brooks hold to a person who has not achieved Inner Tranquility. One may be amongst the most serene of surroundings but till he’s achieved mastery of his desires, till he’s resolved his inner-conflicts, till he’s won his inner-battles, he might as well be stuck in the cesspool of this dunya. Similarly one may be undergoing severe suffering, tremendous torture and afflicted with high levels of physical pain, however if his heart is one with the Almighty, his inner-being would be as tranquil as a leaf floating in a pond on a clear spring day.

    The description of Heaven and Hell in Quran is very apt for the Bedouins of Makkah 1400 years ago. Now that we have progressed, we have experienced that true everlasting happiness doesn’t come from material pleasures. It doesn’t come from the Gardens and Rivers described in the Quran. Permanent Happiness and bliss is a natural outcome of conquering our desires and aligning our will with that of Allah SWT. That’s true tranquility. That’s the Heaven that Quran is talking about. And by practising inner-jihad, one begin to see that in the verses of the Quran too.

    A lot of the above material I have learned by listening to Sheikh Arif’s lectures, which I highly recommend. I have listed several links of his lectures in this blog post:
    http://www.vakil.org/2008/03/09/complete-resource-of-sheikh-arifs-lectures-online/

  3. Salam again,

    Thanks for sharing the Rumi quote and the link to Sheikh Arif’s lectures, hopefully, I’ll listen to them when I am less tired and have more time. I agree with your descriptions of heaven and hell; very beautifully expressed. I really appreciate the time you’ve taken to read and reply to my comment fast :-)

    You suddenly reminded me of my ninth grade Islamic teacher back in Dubai who once told us: “They say there’s a Heaven in Earth, anyone can guess where it is?” My classmates then started yelling out different names of tropical islands, etc. until she finally said: “It is only accessible by those with a strong eeman.”

    I personally can’t agree more with her as there were times I think I had experienced this “heaven”…I now long for it and miss it as I feel I’m stuck in a wave that takes me both near and far from Allah as I am currently studying abroad in Boston. The wave has decreased in intensity, but I think its still there.

  4. I’ve been interested in Sufism for a little while now. Their sayings, poems, self-discipline…

    Lent this book to my Qur’an teacher who’s not so fond of my interest.

    The truth is, not many people know of Sufism – amazingly, not even scholars (or those with more Islamic knowledge than me).

  5. Hello Reem,
    Oh you’ve read the book. It’s so beautiful isn’t it :-). Very gracious of you to lend your copy. I guard mine in doubly locked bookshelf. Please do share other links and websites on sufism that you enjoy. warm wishes,
    Arif

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