Sufism is a form of adherence to truth that has attracted both adoration and condemnation across various religious circles. This practice is mostly associated with Islamic religion although recent opinions from Sufi scholars suggest that the practice originated before the establishment of the religion. However, there have been controversies over the continued association of the practice with religion. Islamic states like Iran are considering sanctioning the practice of Sufism in the country. Another intricacy of the Sufi practice is the existence of various orders that makes it complicated thus dissociating itself from Islamic religion that ascribe to a single order. This article describes Sufism and evaluates the changing perceptions towards it.
Sufi is one of these practices and is traditionally associated with Islamic religion. However, contemporary practice of Sufism is marginally associated with the religion with leading Islamic scholars suggesting that the practice is far removed from the fundamental practices of Islam. Others have even asserted that the practice is a backward practice that deters the spread of Islam while others have completely dissociated Sufism from the religion and argue that it represents a completely different area of practice.
Description of Sufism
Godlas (2012) observes that Sufism is understood to be the inner, mystical, and psycho-spiritual dimension of the Islamic religion. It was initially thought to be a practice involving a repetitive calling out on the names of God in a practice called dhikr. It was majorly build on the foundations of purity of body and mind. Thus, adherents were those who were running away from filthy ways of the world. However, this has since changed as the contemporary adherents of the practice consider it as being separate from Islam. According to Godlas (2012), the quintessence of Sufism is the complete surrender to God through love time and again. At each moment of expressing surrender to God, one should maintain his consciousness in terms of perceptions, thoughts, feelings as well as self-awareness. This means that the person practicing these attributes should subconsciously link them to God. Practicing Sufism therefore involves a conscious devotion to the ways of truth through undivided love and devotion. Such spiritual practice of Sufism is referred to as tarigat and requires the Sufi to strictly follow the ways of love (Godlas, 2012).
Al-Ghazali is attributed to the changing of the perception of Sufism that was prevailing in the 9th century through his writings and teachings. He is credited of suggesting that God existed in essence and therefore could be approached through a practice that involved actions and thoughts that reflected this essence. He advocated for the use of intellect as the noblest human attribute for receiving divine illumination and understanding the mysterious science of devoilement. This science as expounded by al-Ghazali is used today in Sufism and involves total opening of the heart to the delighted knowledge of God (Campanini, 2007). Al-Ghazali’s writings on the practice of Sufism convinced the Muslim scholars of the day to accept it as an official practice of Islam. Initially, this practice had been received with reservation in the Islamic world although it drew most of its philosophies from the Qur’an
In poem number three, how very close, the Sufi spirit is exemplified as being in unity with immortal God Thus; whatever a Sufi thinks has already gone through the minds of God. The soul of Sufi is also close to the soul of God making this two to be in tandem with each other. Similarly, the Sufi spirit is always happy through offering of one’s life that is reciprocated with more love. Sufi spirits are also represented in the poem as being in a world full of commotion and chaos. This is signified by a thousand dead and still souls, while others are crying for what they used to be. Despite all this, Sufi spirit is comforted by a voice of love that has always been around the Sufi. However, this may not have been realized by many of them. This indicates that Sufism requires great dedication and devotion failure to which one can easily drift away with the cares of the world.
Poem number four emphasized on the everlasting good nature of love. This exemplifies the Sufi spirit to be continuously immersed in an everlasting source of love that is void of all but sorrow and joy. This is important is signifying the journey of a Sufi as that with many obstacles but that which definitely leads to everlasting love.
How Has Environmental Movement Influenced Contemporary Religion
Tucker & Grim (2009) observe that one of the challenges facing contemporary religion is the issue of environmental conservation given the assumptions that environmental degradation is caused by secularism and materialism that religion teaches against. Early religion was mostly concerned with the study of religious books and manuscripts that provided spiritual nourishment and moral guidance in the society. However, contemporary religion is composed of environmental movements that care for the environment apart from the conventional spiritual nourishment that they give to their adherents.
As a way of conservation and green politics, contemporary religion is organized into groups that observe the environmental rights of their adherents through education and forums. These meeting provide a forum for the religious organizations drawn from various denominations to come up with proposal on how to preserve the environment. To this end, environmental movement has influenced the contemporary religion through the provision of financial support in funding interreligious dialogue geared towards environmental conservation. For instance, the Worldwide Wildlife Fund (WWF) was sponsored the 1986 interreligious meeting held as Assisi. Similarly, a number of the existing environmental movements have been associated with various religious movements (Tucker & Grim2009).
As environmental issues continue to draw different factions together, the promising trend is that more and more religious groups will continue coming together to share some of the controversial religious teachings. This could be a pointer to the possibility of the unification of the world religions. The coming together of religious movements in supporting environmental conservation has influenced the sharing of differing religious teachings.
From the discussion above, Sufism is a practice that has received different opinions in and out of Islamic religion. It is thus a form of practice that is adored by both Muslims and non-Muslims all over the world. The paper also notes that environmental conservation will continue to draw different religious groups in the contemporary world together as they co-operate in the attempt of conserving the environment.