Mohammed-Hadji Dibirov

There are many views concerning Sufism. Numerous books, articles and special treatises in many languages have been dedicated to this sacred teaching. However, a great number of these works was written by those, who have not gone along the Path themselves. It is similar to explaining the taste of a peach without ever trying the fruit itself. Such writings create the wrong picture of this Great teaching among the readers.

The truest and the deepest essence of Sufism is not intended for the public disclosure. Sufi sacred knowledge and experience are passed only at a private meeting with the master (murshid). The disciple (murid) should be by no means aware of what is yet ahead of him. That is why a Sufi knows of Sufism only that, which he had learned from his own experience on the Path. Even an enlightened Sufi does not take unto himself the task of writing about Sufism without a special permission from his master, even if it will only be about the outward side of Sufism, such as its history and general philosophical ideas, is concerned. Sufi Sheikh Hasan-Hilmi al-Kakhibi ad-Daghestani writes in one of his books that he has said about the teaching just as much as he was allowed to say by his master.

Another difficulty lies in the fact, that many aspects of the teaching simply cannot be described. There are things, that a Sufi sees and knows - yet is unable to explain. Imagine, for example, that a person, who is blind from birth, asks you to explain what the green colour looks like. We see that colour every day but we cannot explain what it looks like. Just as those, who can see, are unable to provide the blind with the explanations of many things around them, so is the Sufi, for whom it is difficult to express in words that which is open to him. To understand all this, a person has to reach enlightenment by means of a special Sufi practice. He has to open his spiritual sight" and extend his own insight far beyond the limits of the material/ carnal existence - to achieve super-consciousness.

A parable says, that several scholars – (alims) - came to a sheikh and asked him to explain them what Sufism is. “If Allah wishes so, you will hear my explanation,"- replied the sheikh. He invited them into the house and asked them to wait for a while, while he withdrew to a separate room and prayed to Allah to take his soul away and deliver him from speaking to his guests of Sufism. The deep wisdom of the parable shows that it is impossible to teach the truth, to explain the essence of the Sufi teaching even to scholars, who's very disposition is to search for knowledge. It is also impossible to render in words a special spiritual state that can be achieved by Sufi practice. That is why Sufis say: Everything that can be expressed in words - is not Sufism".

Speaking about Sufism, one should know his listener. It is very often impossible to explain the essence of Sufism to a secular person, who has been absorbing the secular ideology throughout his whole life. Such a person would rather understand Sufism through those laws and wisdoms that he is used to follow, simplifying things for his understanding. But he will never succeed because of many reasons. One of them is that the laws of the spiritual life are entirely different from the laws of the material world.

The true substance of the sacred Islamic teaching is revealed by Allah's kindness only to those, who are seeking and making effort to achieve an inside understanding of Sufism by means of the special spiritual practice. But one should practice Sufi psychotechnique only under the guidance of an experienced and true Sufi master - a spiritual teacher (murshid), strictly following all his instructions.

A question may arise: what is the purpose of Sufism? What does it give?

Sufism - is a sacred teaching, which holds the key to knowledge. Its goal is to bring man up to the higher level of perfection. Mankind was given science and Sufism: the first - to comprehend the creations of the Almighty and the second - to perceive the Almighty, to reach the Truth. Hence the specific range of means and methods used in Sufi practice are quite difficult to understand. Sufism teaches to gain understanding of the true reality. It is not only about who the man is, but also what should be his ideal. Reaching this level opens an unlimited scope of possibilities for a man.

A lot has been written about the phenomenal abilities of certain people, including clairvoyants and those who have the ability of prophesy. But the superior abilities of the most recognized of them are just a thousandth of what the true Sufis can do. The Sufi level is unachievable for those who acquired their skills in a different way. The secret mystical pre-Islamic religions are also inferior to Sufism in this respect.

People often say that the phenomenal abilities of clairvoyants and soothsayer, such as, Nostradamus or Vanga, come from God. Those, who are endowed by Him, reveal such abilities. From the one hand, it is true, from the other - not so true. The truth is that Allah gives such abilities to a man from the very beginning just as each man is born with nails and hair. The question is how is one supposed to reveal those abilities, how is one able to awaken the hidden mechanisms of human nature responsible for their exposure. At this stage of development mankind is still far from being perfect. Depending directly on the level of human perfection, its potential abilities are in a state of slumber".

At the same time it is not the goal of Sufism to reveal human super abilities just for the sake of doing so. It should by no means be the reason for starting the journey along this Great and Sacred Path. And if superior abilities, revealed during the practice, become the matter of great interest for an experienced disciple, the master shall free him from them so that they would not hinder the disciple's ascending to the Truth.

But superior abilities are badly needed for obtaining and understanding the superior knowledge. He who can neither dive nor swim will never see the bottom of the lake. Enlightened Sufis know that man, the unique creation of Allah, is the unity of the three elements: the flesh/carnal/material body, the materially thin substance (nafs) and the fundamental substance of the human existence - the soul. Nafs is also called the animal soul "and it is known in today's experimental science as biological field. It forms the frame of the materially thick human body, has an egg-like shape (which narrows down to the feet) and consists of seven information-and-energy layers – “bodies". Each of them is an intricate structure, with its proper energetically structure, colour (nafs colours in general are close to the rainbow colours), frequency vibration range, polarization and so on. Our materially thick body is connected to six of them through a sort of energy-information cords". Lataifs are (in fact) the key to Nafs, through them the Sufi is working in the beginning of the (Spiritual) Path, making nafs healthy, more perfect and harmonious, enriching it in divine meaning, with his/her master conducting and directing the work of his murid. The spiritual sight helps a Sufi sheikh in this work by allowing him to see the lataifs and the nafs as a whole as well as in detail, to watch what is happening in the materially thin substance of a murid.

Candidates to be a Master are supposed to meet very high standards. The cases are known when a master would select as his successor only one disciple out of thousands. For example, a widely known Daghestani Sufi sheikh Mama-Dibir al-Rochi ad-Daghestani has not left any successor at all, although he had had several thousands of murids (disciples). Ideally, a Sufi murshid must be absolutely perfect and such perfection, naturally, leads to his superior abilities being revealed. The higher the level of perfection, the more significant they are. The superior abilities, given to a man by Allah, become revealed with each step towards perfection.

All the above said is just one of many sides of Sufism, which to a great extent is connected with the manifested substance. The crucial thing is that sufi practice cleans, heals, strengthens, harmonizes and prepares our spirit as well as the basis of our existence - our soul, for spiritual life after their separation from the flesh/materially thick body. The supreme aim of Sufism is to know the Almighty Allah and to know the Truth.

There is one more thing. An alim said, “One third of the Qur'an is the Tariqa". Another said, “One half of the Qur'an is the Tariqa". Another said, “They are both wrong. The Tariqa is the whole Qur'an ". The whole text of the Holy Qur'an does not contain Sufism as a systematized teaching, for a single whole cannot be divided. Heart, brains, muscles, bones and other components - together they form a single being. So does Sufism constitute a single whole together with the teaching of Islam. If the heart is rent from the being, it will neither function, nor will the organism itself be alive without the heart. For that reason Islam and Sufism should not be confronted one against the other.

For example, one can be taught some knowledge in chemistry within the frames of the school curriculum. Perhaps, it will be enough for him. But if he wants to go deeply into the subject, he will have to study it more thoroughly by learning its laws at a higher level. The same can be said about the Shariah, an open teaching of Islam, the teaching for all mankind. The Shariah provides the necessary basis for spiritual life. At the same time there are more sacred levels of existence. Reaching them requires concentrated and persistent work. And Sufism is the very means and method of knowing the Truth.

It is perfectly justified to call Sufism the Shariah's heart". For a Sufi, who has devoted his life to the quest of the Truth and who seeks not but God, the unity of the Shariah and the Tariqa (Sufism), the absolute compliance with the Shariah is the indispensable condition of knowing the Truth. Shuaib-afandi al-Bagini ad-Daghestani, the revered Sufi sheikh and hafiz, writes about himself in this respect: All my life I have been living in strict compliance with all the instructions of the Holy Qur'an and the hadith of the Prophet Muhammad". Thus it is crucial for the true Sufi to live by the Shariah, the core principle of Sufism. That is why a Sufi can be seen as the Shariah's purity guard.

The history of Daghestan shows, for instance, that at the times when atheism propaganda was at its highest, Islam was best preserved in those regions where sufi traditions were the strongest. In the 19th - and at the beginning of the 20th centuries Sufism played an important role in the history of Daghestan. Such prominent figures as Muhammad al-Yaragi, Jamal ad-Din al-Kazikumukhi, imam Gazi-Muhammad and Imam Shamil, imam Muhammad-hajji al-Salti and many others, who headed the movement for the purity of the Shariah, were murshids or Sufis, gone along the Path from the beginning till the end. Islam's strong position in Daghestan can also be accounted for by the strict adherence to the Sufi traditions and enthusiasm of the local Sufi sheikhs.

Thus Sufism is indeed the “heart” of the Shariah and the “soul" of Islam. Sufism and the Shariah are inseparable, they are one single whole. Together they lead the man towards perfection, towards the knowledge of the beyond-sense existence (Ma'rifa) and finally towards the Truth (Haqiqa).

I would like to wish the mankind the sooner realization of the greatness and the true purpose of Sufism - this priceless and sacred spiritual experience of Islam.


6 April, 2005 . AllBest.Ru