With grace, spiritual enlightenment can happen in a fraction of a second. We need to be open and receptive to this blessing. Using down-to-earth stories and examples, The One-Minute Sufi provides small doses of inspirational Sufi principles, allowing us to reflect on them as we go about our daily business. These principles can change the course of an entire day - and gradually, our destiny.
Azim Jamal is one of the finest international inspirational speakers and bestselling authors. For two decades, he has traveled worldwide speaking to more than one million people living in 26 countries about business, balance and beyond. Many more millions have received his message through the media and other sources.
THE WORD SUFI IS DERWED FROM THE ARABIC Word soof, which literally means wool, referring to the material from which the simple robes of the early Muslim mystics were made.
Sufism refers to the mystical traditions of Islam. It is the living spirit of the Islamic tradition. Sufism is built on islam (submission) and iman (faith). A Sufi is one who sets himself or herself on the path of self- purification leading to enlightenment and union with God. He is a seeker in search of his true identity.
A Sufi lives in the moment and adapts to the changing world around him without compromising the essence of his beliefs. He is a child of the moment. There are different forms of expressions in Sufism, but the essence remains intact. The engaging verses of Sufi giants Ibn Arabi and Rumi, the love ecstasies of the early Sufi mystic Rabiah, the towering voice of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and the prayer dances of the whirling dervishes are all expressions of Sufism.
Many people contend that to follow the Sufi path one must endorse Islam. Yet clearly, once you reach your destination, the path is no longer an issue. In other words, there are many ways to get to the truth. It is like many people climbing the same mountain along different roads, but the view from the peak is the same.
Rumi gives an example of a few blind people trying to examine an elephant by sense of touch alone. Each thinks one part of the elephant is the whole and experiences it in a manner slightly different from reality. For one person, the elephant is a pillar (leg), for another it is a fan (ear), and for another it is a rope (tail). Yet they are all touching the same elephant. Similarly, there are many ways to seek the same truth.
Martin Lings, in his book What is Sufism?, explains that all mysticism is equally universal in the greater sense that they lead to the One Truth, just like the radii of a circle all reach the center no matter where they begin from the circle. However, he says that if you do not follow one radius to its completion, then you may not reach the center.
As the Sufi Shaykh ad-Darqawi says, “A man who tries to find water by digging a little here and a little these will die of thirst’ So, although there are many to the truth, it is important to follow a path to its completion. We can pluck flowers from other traditions as long as we are not jumping back and little from one path to another.
Considering a Broader Aspect of Sufism
Although Sufism traditionally has its origin in Islam, it has influenced many thinkers and philosophers. Idries Shah, in his book The Sufis, has outlined past Sufi influence on St. Francis of Assisi, the Troubadours, St. Augustine, the Rosicrucians, Maimonides, the Jewish Kabbalah, and a host of other medieval and modern religious movements. Sufism is thus a bridge between east and west. Lalaludin Rumi, the 12th-century Sufi master, describes a Sufi in his poem:
What is the solution, O Moslems: for I do not know myself Neither Christian, Jew,
Zoroastrian or Moslem am I;
I am not an easterner or a westerner, or of land or sea;
Not of nature or of heaven; not of India, China, Bulgaria, Saqsin.
Not of the Iraqs, nor of the land of Khorasan.
My place is placelessness; my sign is of no sign.
I have no body or life; for l am of the life of life. I have put away duality;
I have seen the two worlds as one.
I desire one, I know one, I see one, I call one.
Rumi is describing a stage where he has transcended all forms of spiritual realization — which is very different from a merely theoretical understanding of spirituality. The final stage a Sufi reaches is oneness with God, which comes when the ego has disappeared. Rumi says, “The mother of all idols is your own ego”. We have all heard sayings such as, “Seek and you will find” and “Knock and you will enter:’ Nevertheless, the question remains: How does one knock? Sufism shows us the art of knocking that leads to the door of ultimate realization.
Who Is a Sufi?
A Sufi is interested in the essence, not the form. He looks at what is inside, not outside. A human being has an outward appearance — how we look, the clothes we wear, the car we drive, the house we live in, and the money we have. To the Sufi they matter little. It is what is inside a person, his character and spirit that interest the Sufi. To the Sufi, the exoteric outward forms of an individual are an illusion; the reality lies in that which is esoteric, the inner part. The Sufi can be a man or a woman, young or old, black or white, a professional or a homemaker.
The Sufi is grounded in ethical principles. He knows that these principles connect him to his core. He knows that, no matter how much change there is around him, the ethical principles are changeless. Principles provide an anchor for the Sufi. The quest of the Sufi is to listen to his conscience and to follow it in both good and trying times. The Sufi knows that he can never get lost if he follows the true or straight path.
The Sufi is a person of timelessness and placelessness, living in the world but not of the world. While he is a mystic, he is not a hermit living on a mountain somewhere. Rather, he lives a balanced life, avoiding excessive materialism and striving for spirituality at his core. A Sufi views his role in this life as that of an instrument or vessel through which he takes with one hand and gives with another. He goes with the flow, living in the moment but without losing sight of his vision.
My Interpretation of and Approach to Sufism
Sufism is a varied tradition with a long and inspiring history. Its practices and doctrines are richly layered, and understanding them in their depths is a lifetime’s work. I cannot explore this tradition in its fullness here, nor is it my purpose. I am neither a scholar nor a historian. For me, the Sufi is a symbol for a stance toward life, and a perspective about values that we can all learn from and use in our daily lives. Sufism represents an ideal of how we can all maintain a spiritual and ethical center while still pursuing our worldly goals. It is this ideal that I want to explore in this book.
By citing Sufi poems and anecdotes, I elaborate on all these qualities of the Sufi in this book. The focus is on the message, rather than its origin. So if a message conveyed reflects Sufi thinking, I have included it as a Sufi message, irrespective of its origin. I have plucked the flowers of truth from wherever they come. The Sufi quotes in this book are mostly translated from different languages.
These quotes have been taken from the works mentioned in the Bibliography at the end of the book.
As our lives become busier and faster, we often don’t have time to nourish our souls. The One-Minute Sufi provides small doses of inspirational Sufi principles, allowing us to reflect on them as we go about our daily business. These principles can change the course of an entire day — and, gradually, our destiny.
A key message of the book is that it is not how much we read that matters, but what we do with what we read that does. It is through reflection that change takes place. Consequently, the book is designed in such a way that you read a chapter a day, reflect deeply on the message as you go about your and write about your reflection for about a minute at the end of the day. Writing helps crystallize thoughts. Knowing that you are to spend writing about your reflections and how they a part in your day helps keeps you alert.
Try to get into the discipline of writing for a minute at the end of the day. It may be difficult in the beginning if you are not used to it. Sometimes g will come to your mind. If that happens, just down your understanding of the one-minute gradually. It will register in your subconscious and play out in days that follow.
Implement what you learn from the reading and reflection right away and, preferably, over the course of the entire day and weeks to come. Practice creates habit and momentum. If you do this regularly, you notice a marked improvement in your life, and, gradually, it will improve your connection to your spirit.
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