Sufism – The Islamic Mystical Path of Love and Surrender

True islam involves three things: surrender to the will of God and Holy Jihad, which is actually a war against one’s own ignorance and delusion, and unconditional love towards God. The concept of oneness in Islam is so subtle that it is misunderstood by 98% of the people. So, the Quranic verses that came through Muhammad was tailored to suit the understanding of the barbaric, uncivilized people who lived in Arabia back then. People were making idols and eating the pieces of them, and were also killing female children alive.

How can the oneness of God be understood by these people when it deifies the minds of people who are living in a technologically advanced, scientifically progressed and culturally more civilized modern world? But still, Quran seems to preserve the essence, as Sufis seem to interpret it in a way that is so close to the essence of various thoughts of schools of ancient India, Greece and China. The violent verses in Quran need to be interpreted with the right context, as a verse intended to convey how one has to defend oneself. It was true that a large number of people were trying to kill Prophet Muhammad and those verses should be taken as inspiration that Muhammad gave to Muslims to be ready for the war as a self defence. It was a need of the hour.

Also, It seems to make sense to think that Muhammad was a very compassionate and intelligent person, going by the things that have been written about Muhammad. He is described by various authors of his time as an extremely compassionate and caring person. He was also a conqueror by his psychological nature and was a Kshatriya in the lingo of Hinduism. He seemed to have created a revival in the society and culture.

His main teaching was the oneness of God, surrendering to the will of God (taking what comes in life and not struggle against the nature; surrender itself gives a deep sense of peace) and unconditional love towards God. Everything else he said was culturally specific and also specific to the social conditions of the time he lived. Because, there are multiple ways to approach divine. As long as the essence of a spiritual path is love and meditation and conveys the oneness of God, it is the right path.

Now, what is this oneness of God? It doesn’t just mean that there is no other God apart from him. It means that nothing else has an existence apart from him. This is what one without the second means, and it is the literal meaning of the word Advaita (without second). Oneness of God is something that is realized in one’s experience. Words of prophets and Imams can only guide you towards realizing it on your own. They cannot describe the oneness because the oneness and the unity of Gods cannot be described in words, even though people always give it a try. You have to walk the path and dissolve yourself in the process.

Let me put it this way. Imagine that there is a water in a glass tub and an ice cube is floating in it. There are two clearly manifest entities in the bathtub now: an ice cube and the given volume of water. But when finally the ice cube melts and becomes one with water, ice cube has lost its independent existence. Now there is complete oneness, one without a second. Same thing happens psychologically to a true Muslim. He is like the ice cube and the water is like God. He loses his psychological boundaries and his sense of independent existence. Then he gets his true afterlife, which actually happens while living in the body. In this afterlife, there is eternal peace and bliss. This is when a Muslim truly understands the oneness of God; this is when it is possible to understand it in the first place.

To put it in Christian terminology, this is when you discover the Kingdom of God inside you, become spiritually reborn, get a mind like a small child, become baptized by the Holy spirit and enjoy the gifts it brings such as peace, joy, kindness, goodness, a deep trust in existence etc.

To put it in Hindu terminology, this is when you finish your sanchita karma, get atma jnana or self realization and understand the true meaning of Advaita. This is when you are twice born or dvija. In the terminology of Upanishads, this is when you are really a Brahmin, a knower of Brahman!

Spiritual wisdom is so subtle and can be easily misunderstood. But it is the central nerve that runs through every major religion. It is also the same in all religions. People focus more on the skeleton and skin instead of the flesh. How would you feel if I come to your home on Ramadan, get a plate of delicious mutton Biryani from you, throw the flesh and eat the bones? God has given a feast to you. But you are fighting among yourselves in proving whose plate has more number of bones, when it is actually an all-you-can-eat-buffet. Spiritual wisdom of oneness of God and realizing that oneness in one’s own experience by walking on the path of unconditional love and surrender brings out the flesh of the feast that Allah has given you in this wonderful party of life! Alhamdulillah الحمد لله (All praise goes to God!).

Islam openly shares two elements of self purification that it shares with Bhagavad Gita: 1) Doing one’s duties while surrendering oneself to the Will of God or karmayoga 2)Showing unconditional love towards God, long to unite with him and go through a pain of suffering until the Unity of God is experienced in one’s experience or bhakti yoga. But Bhagavad Gita also has something called Jnana Yoga which Islam too secretly shares through the path of Sufism. Sufism is not just about love and surrender but also about getting the true knowledge of oneness of God through one’s experience. Muhammad gave the Sufi teachings to his cousin and son-in-law Ali. Almost all Sufi orders trace their origins to Ali.

You can read the verses of the great Sufi Mystic and poet Rumi here: https://nellaishanmugam.wordpress.com/best-quotes-and-poems-of-jalaluddin-rumi/

I also want to share some Quotes by various Sufis:

The Metaphoric Explanation of the Holy Bible – Discovering True Christianity

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We tend to interpret the scriptures the wrong way when we take them literally. But scriptures are full of metaphors. It is said that God breathed his breath into man. The Holy Spirit comes from the Greek word ‘pneuma’ which means ‘breath’. Holy spirit is the same as Prana, Shakti and Kundalini in Hinduism. It is what animates the world and the human beings. But inside the human beings it is dormant. By spiritual practice involving unconditional devotion and meditation, we purify ourselves and let the holy spirit be revealed and fill our entire being. This is the meaning of getting baptized by the Spirit. The fall of Adam and Eve is a beautiful metaphor that indicates how the oneness of childhood is lost by the birth of duality. This happens to everyone. Exodus is the symbolism of the journey from bondage to liberation. Crucifixion is the death of the duality. And resurrection is the birth of Christ consciousness, the spiritual rebirth which brings the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is called as Jnana in Hinduism.

This doesn’t mean that the stories in Bible didn’t happen. They just didn’t happen exactly the way it is explained. Also, there is a strong consensus among historians that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and many others were not real people. Archeological research has rendered incredible evidence for the fact that many of the Bible stories are stories and not history. But it also presents the history of Israel in a way that adds juice to the story, even though it is completely different from the actual history. For example, the conquest of Canaan didn’t really happen; but to interpret it in a symbolic way, it symbolizes the conquest of one’s own ignorance, which is also the metaphorical interpretation of Holy Jihad in Islam. United Kingdom of Israel as portrayed in the Bible never existed either.

The Hebrew Bible was written for two purposes. Contrary to what Bible suggests, the entire Torah and the parts of Old testament was written sometime around 8th – 6th Century BCE. A major part was written after the destruction of the first temple in Jerusalem. The first purpose was political: to unite the people of Israel under one God, one temple and one Kingdom. The second purpose is spiritual: to convey truths via metaphors, parables and sayings.

The whole Bible comes under the category of mythology. In fact, only after the birth of Jesus, puranas, the Indian myths were composed. This also suggests that Indian mythology might have been inspired by Christian and Jewish scriptures. Indian myths also try to convey the spiritual truths using metaphors, parables, sayings and in the form of conversation between two people, a guru and a disciple. They do convey a little bit of history directly and indirectly, but many of the stories were added to create an interesting narrative. This narrative was used to unite people and also to kindle the feelings of devotion in the initial stage.

It is said that Quran was revealed to Muhammad by angel Gabriel. But here it is important to understand that even Gabriel is a personification of the Holy Spirit and the revelation by Gabriel is hence symbolic. There are a lot of such symbols in scriptures.

However, historians do agree that Jesus was a historical person. Two incidents which are considered as absolutely real are his baptism by John and his crucifixion.

John Campbell, an American professor of literature, has done a lot of research and has written books on this subject. I haven’t read any of his books yet and hence can’t comment about how efficient his arguments are. But I understood the symbolic nature of myths and scriptures in the light of my own experience.

Also read: Dear Christians, Hindu Deities are not Evil Spirits! – A Criticism of Christian Churches Which Promote Religious Intolerance

Goddess Gomathi Amman, Adi Thabasu and Religious Tolerance

I am always amazed by coincidences in life. As I scientist, I regard them as just coincidences but the poetic aspect of me rejoices in the beauty of the connections. Many such beautiful coincidences happened today; and today is also Adi Thabasu, a festival in Tamil month of Adi that celebrates religious tolerance.

There is a beautiful temple in a town close to my city. The town is Sankarankovil, in Tirunelveli district. This temple has a story behind it. It is not history, but a story. But the story comes with a good message which served to connect Shaivism and Vaishnavism, the two sects into one.

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I am including the story from Wikipedia as It will save me a lot of typing:

“The goddesses is a yogini who was performing her penance on the tip of the needle to please lord Shiva and merge with him. Two snake kings namely “sangan” and “padman”. Sangan was worshipping lord shiva and padman was worshipping lord narayana. One day they had a quarrel on who is great whether lord shiva, the destroyer or narayana, the protector. They were trying to prove their own power and finally went to the yogini and pleaded her to give them a proper judgement.

The yogini grew out of her grace pleaded the almighty to show his universality form so that not only the snake kings but also for every human being. By the intense penance lord shiva appears before the yogini in the form of half shiva and half vishnu showing the world that they are equal and it is with love and sacrifice they could reach them. Hence sangan and padman worshipped the lord and prayed to the yogini for showing them a way to attain the god and they stayed with her. the yogini was none other than goddesses gomathi. Gomathi means repository of wealth. Since the snakes stayed with the goddesses, this place is free from all venomous creatures and praying to this goddesses can eliminate the fear of venom.

One of the 18 siddhas, the great pambatti siddhar worshipped this goddesses as valai kumari and he regarded this goddesses to be the great serpent power which can make miracles in taking aspirant in yogic transformation. Pambatti siddhar samadhi is seen behind the temple.”

My long time readers would know that I am not happy with the hatred spread by RSS and other Hindutva organizations in India. This morning, before I knew that today is Adi Thabasu, I commented on an RSS group in Facebook. Their replies were in Tamil but you can guess what they are basically saying by reading my replies that are in English. Eventually, in between the comments I got to know that today is the festive day that reminds us about religious tolerance, as I was also checking Tamil calendar app in my mobile. And what I notice among RSS members is religious intolerance and hatred. Here are the screenshots:

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There was another coincidence too. Once I finished posting these comments, I saw this in my Facebook feed:

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A birthday of a Muslim friend and a Christian friend. Both are my good friends. And coincidentally, it made me recall a conversation that I had with one of them in a post that I posted a month before:

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The conversation itself was regarding religious tolerance. This is way too much of coincidences today. I am not sure if they have any other significance other than being coincidences but they are beautiful and poetic. They make me smile and I enjoy them!

 

Hinduism, Christianity and Islam – One Truth, Various Names

You are avyakta (impersonal); but you identify yourself with the image of a person (vyakta). It is like a wave imagining itself as an entity separate from the ocean. But how can a wave be separate from the ocean? We are all like waves, but forgot that we are not many, but the One reality that is without two. I think that must be the true meaning of the phrase ‘Lahilaha illalla’….

Many people do not know that Prophet Muhammad was the one who started the first Sufi order. Islam means surrender. And Holy Jihad symbolizes the war against one’s own ignorance. This is similar to the teachings and the context of Bhagavad Gita. Islam is a path of karma yoga. There is a way to read and interrupt Quran to get the right meaning. And only Sufis seem to know that.

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Also, many people do not know that Jesus was a gnostic teacher. Gnostic wisdom says that there is divine spark in every one. That is what Jesus meant when he said the kingdom of God is within you. He also says that you can become free like birds, with no worries about tomorrow. In Sermon of Mount, by saying Blessed are the meek, he says that suffering is a blessing in disguise. It makes people to seek spiritual truth and bliss. By making statements like ‘I and the Father are one’ and ‘Before Abraham, I am’, he reveals his possible connections with Eastern traditions. His only two commandments are to love God and love human beings. His message was love and Christianity is a path of Bhakti yoga.

Also, while true Islam reflects the teachings of Gita, life of Jesus closely resembles the life of Krishna.

We are all connected. India is a land of unity in diversity. So, as a matter of fact, India is the only possibility for a world peace. Only India can show how people can live together. Do not listen to Sanghis like RSS people. Discourage them! Because they are the real anti- Indians and anti-Hindus.

This reminds me of a song that we used to sing in school. It starts as Govinda bolo, Gopala bolo. It proceeds to name Allah, Jesus, Zoroaster, Buddha, Mahavira and Guru nanak. Three more days for Independence day for India. Let us remind ourselves about unity in diversity..

Post dedicated to Usha Raman mam, my school principal….

 

Some quotes:

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If I Speak in the Tongues of Men or of Angels – A Commentary on I Corinthians 13 and Bible’s Connection with Advaita Vedanta

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Hi people! Is there anything that is greater than love? Can there be anything ever that is greater than Love itself? No! I don’t think so! Love is the only thing that connects us… No matter which part of the world you are from… You need to understand that we belong to the same family! I am your relative no matter where you are from… This whole earth is one family and our family!

Let us all unite together, be happy and treat everyone as our own family members. I love you guys… We as humans have to stand up for a global unity and peace.

We CAN make this world a better place to live..

I don’t see any difference between John 14: 19-21 and Bhagavad Gita 9:29. I have no idea why people are fighting…
 
Gita 9:29:
I am equal to all living beings; I don’t have anyone that I hate or anyone who I told dearer than the others. But whoever worships me with devotion, they are in me and I am in them
 
John 14:19 -21:
Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

What we call as God is beyond time and space; but we understand him or imagine him as a person. This is because human mind always detects an agent for everything; this agent deduction in the human mind imagines God in human form or an invisible personality that has human psychology. But this is due to our limitation, not God’s! God is not a person but a personification that points to a direct experience and presence beyond time and space.

Also, most of the scriptures got distorted because of later interpolation, poor translation, lost verses, edited verses and testimony from people who are not direct eyewitnesses. Even the testimonies of eyewitnesses can be biased and memory can be biased too! But regardless of all that, the essence of the scriptures have been realized by millions of sages before us and their teachings can guide us to salvation.

Here is a riddle for you: 

He sees through the eyes of every being, knows through the awareness of every manifest organism and walks using the legs of every piece of life.

As an Octopus he has eight legs; as the son of Man, he has two legs; as the son of God, he is the inner light of every little thing that eats, procreates and decomposes!

He is beyond time and space.

He exists as the love of every mother, as the care of every father, as the company of every brother, as the support of every sister, as the closeness of every wife and as the convenience of every servant.

He shakes hands with you through every friend you see and he pays your wages as every boss you work for. He is the one who eats and he is the one who gets eaten, yet he neither eats; nor gets eaten. He is the essence of every word, every sound, every sentence, every contradiction, every confusion, everything that is good and bad; NOT EVEN AN ATOM MOVES WITHOUT HIS WILL…

He is the one who robs, which gets robbed and the act of robbing; yet he neither robs nor gets robbed. He is beyond the limits of human intellect even though intellect itself is a manifestation of him; he is beyond the power of human vision, even though human vision itself is one of his manifestations!. He is beyond the power of human ears and yet he is everything that you hear…

He is She; She is it, and it is You!  … His kingdom is within you and He is closer than the mane behind your neck! All praise ultimately goes to him and no one else.. He is the good shepherd and the sheep, he is the Gopalan and the Gomata; he is the Pashu and he is the Pathi! He is the Kartha, the doer; every biochemical living piece on planet earth is just a puppet; this puppet show is going on for aeons as a holy game of God…. you suffer, you laugh, you enjoy, you grow, you sin and someday you may even become a saint.. but you know, it is all in the game… in the eyes of God, there is no discrimination!

He is the sweetness of the milk and the sourness of the toddy; He is the intoxication and he is the clarity.. everything happens to according to His will and His will alone.. He is both the uppercase and the lower case letters and the one who is beyond, before, beneath, below and in the middle of all the letters.. He is the first and he is the last, yet He has no beginning and no end!

He expands through and from you in all directions and pervades everything, including every single stone pillar on earth, every single speck of dust and every heart that beats…

He is every mistake and he is every correction … He is… Only He is… He is the one truth which is known, spoken, and understood by various means, forms, names and practices by wise people…

He is not a person but a personification!

Who is He?

Clue: The answer is inside you, within you and lies very close to you; close your eyes and keep looking until you find it…

When you find it, your expression certainly will be, ‘Oh My God!’….

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The Holy Jihad in Islam and its True Spiritual Meaning

The meaning of Holy Jihad in Islam
The meaning of Holy Jihad in Islam

 

The greatest Jihad is to battle your own soul. to fight the evil within yourself
                                                                      – Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

( Please visit this link for more examples of this concept: https://abuaminaelias.com/jihad-against-the-soul-in-islam/)

This is the true meaning of Jihad in Islam. Jihad is nothing but conquering oneself. An external Jihad is fought during unavoidable circumstances to protect the world against people who want to destroy peace. But Islam says that unless a man first fights against his own ignorance, craving, delusion etc, he is not qualified for an external Jihad.

The situation of Bhagwad Gita is actually an external Jihad. Arjuna refuses to fight the war against adharma, even though it is his duty as a warrior. But Krishna asks him to surrender the fruit of actions and just do his duty. This concept of surrender is the basis of both Karma Yoga in Bhagavad Gita as well as Islam. The word Islam itself means ‘surrender’. Prophet Mohammed’s main work was to resurrect the old Abrahamic concept of unconditional love and surrender to God. That is what Islam means.Everything else in Quran is a collection of social laws that Muhammad gave to people of those days in his country.

The key concept here is Inner jihad. It is a way of purifying one self. The concept of Navaratri that we are celebrating is also a symbolic representation of the Inner Jihad. Mahishasura represents the three malas: ahankar, karma and maya (delusion). Kali destroying Mahishasura in 9 days represents destroying these three malas (3 days for each mala). The tenth day, Vijayadasami represents the victory of the inner jihad. A victor who conquers himself thus is called as Jina in Jainism. Mahavira (which means ‘the Great warrior’) was called by that name as he had conquered himself.

This is the significance of festivals like Navratri or Durga Puja and even Diwali. Today is Vijayadasami, the tenth day following the 9 day Navaratri celebrations that just happened. Navaratri is a festival that is celebrated all over India in a grand manner. In Eastern parts of India, it is celebrated as Durga puja. On this Vijayadasami day, let us all remember the significance of walking on the spiritual path, removing the ignorance and reaching salvation .

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