TASAWWUF

(Uzma Sagheer Janjua, Islamabad)

TASAWWUF

The Tasawuf is a word of Urdu language with Persian and Arabic roots, meaning the inwardness. Basically, it refers to the ‘inwardness of Islam’ and that is why it is associated with the spirituality. The Urdu language has a collection of great literature on Tasawuf. In fact, many people learn the Urdu language to get their hands on the Tasawuf books. One of the basic teachings of anyone practicing Tasawuf is to remain peaceful. The Tasawuf or the Sufism is very much relevant in the today’s world, as there is a dearth of peace, harmony, and tolerance. The Muslims should tell the world through this branch of their religion that they are peace-loving people.
Tasawwuf has been variously defined by various scholars. In his book "awaarif al Ma`aarif" (the Fragrances of Inner Knowledge), Suhrawardi mentions that more than a thousand definitions exist for Tasawwuf. However, a cursory study of some of these definitions will reveal that they differ mostly in their wording and their emphases. For the purposes of this essay I will provide three definitions.
Shaykh Abu Bakr ash-Shibli has defined Tasawwuf as follows:"Its beginning is the knowledge (Ma`rifa) of Allah and its end is His unification (Tauheed)."
Junayd al-Baghdadi defines it as "... being dead to one`s self and alive in Allah".
And Shaykh ul-Islam Zakariyya Ansari has said:
"Sufism teaches one to purify one`s self, improve one`s morals, and build up one`s inner and outer life in order to attain perpetual bliss. Is subject matter is the purification of the soul and its end or aim is the attainment of eternal felicity and blessedness."
These three definitions - the first pertaining to the intellect (`aql), the second to a state of being (hal), and the third to ethics (akhlaq) - cover the major concerns of the Sufi quest.
The first definition therefore, sets out the ultimate nature of things viz. That everything subsists through and by the Will of Allah. The second emphasises the importance of renouncing the ego or lower self. Arrogance, conceit, and self-centredness are considered amongst the greatest veils between man and Allah.
It is this state of being or condition (hal) which Rabia al-`Adawiyya gave expression to when she said: "If I seek repentance of myself then I shall have need of repentance again". Rabia counted the mere acknowledgement of the individual ego amongst the greatest of sins. The third definition has in mind the development of the human personality along the best of moral values. This process is made possible through the twin processes of purification (Tazkiyyah) and adornment (Tahliyya). That is, purifying the self from all blameworthy qualities, and adorning it with all praiseworthy qualities.
Lexicographers have identified a number of source words from which the term Sufi is derived. The most widely accepted word from which Sufi is derived is "suf" meaning wool. The earlier ascetics often donned woollen garments to express their inner detachment from the world and their rejection of the excessive materialism of the earlier Islamic dynasties, particularly the Umayyad dynasty.

Other terms that suggest themselves as source words are the following:
Safa, meaning purification.
Safwe, which means those who are selected.
Suffa, meaning a bench or low veranda. During the time of the Prophet (May the peach and blessings of Allah be upon him) a number of Companions disengaged themselves from normal worldly activities and devoted themselves to an ascetic way of life. They came to be known as the Ashaab us-Suffa or "Companions of the Bench". They spent the greater part of their lives in acts of devotion on a low veranda in the vicinity of the Prophet`s (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) mosque.
Saff, meaning rank, line, or row. The first row in congregational prayers in Islam has been accorded a special status for it symbolises those who are in the first rank of spirituality.
From the etymological point of view the only term that qualifies as a source word is "Suf". Nevertheless the other terms are normally included in discussions on the origin of the term "Sufi" for the simple reason that all of them convey one or another of the manifold dimensions of the Sufi Way.

 

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مزہبی کالم نگاری میں لکھنے اور تبصرہ کرنے والے احباب سے گزارش ہے کہ دوسرے مسالک کا احترام کرتے ہوئے تنقیدی الفاظ اور تبصروں سے گریز فرمائیں - شکریہ