Is there any difference between 'Arif dan Sufi?

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IN THE NAME OF ALLAH In order to answer your question, we must first ask a question. Sufi and Arif in what era you mean? Because Sufism and Irfan (Mysticism) have different meanings in different periods of time. A) Sufism in the sense of Zohd ( زهد asceticism) B) Sufism in the sense of esoteric knowledge علم باطن (vs. ordinary knowledge or علم ظاهر) The common theory among scholars of Irfan is that Sufism began in the beginning of the history of Islam with asceticism. The fear of hell and the hope for paradise; also fulfillment of obligations and abandonment of prohibited acts and neglecting worldly desires are the first commandments we deal with in the Sharia of Islam (Islamic Law). Over time, the practice of these commands caused the person to perceive some ‘occult and esoteric facts’ in this world. With the accumulation of such experiences and classification of those states of spirituality, concepts of practical mysticism (Irfan) and spiritual journey (Solook) were gradually formed [e.g. putting trust in God (Tawakkol), affection for God (Mahabbat), etc.]. Theoretical mysticism is also a result of reaching the peak of spiritual journey, that is, Almighty God and His attributes. The foundation of Sufism is based on such experiences. (1) Therefore, in the second phase, Sufism - in the sense of esoteric knowledge - was set against the exoteric knowledge, that is, the science of Islamic Jurisprudence and the like. Terminology of Sufism: According to what we said above, this word was first termed with the word ‘asceticism’ and centuries later with the word 'mysticism'. After the demise of the Holy Prophet of Islam (pbuh), especially after the Islamic conquest and the economic prosperity of the Islamic community, some new terms were used in the Muslim society such as Sufi and Tasawwuf. Sufis were those who were much adherent to the commands of Islamic law and tried to preserve the tradition of their predecessors by practicing self-preservation, staying away from gathering wealth, and spiritual retreat for the sake of worship.(2) There is no evidence during these many centuries that the word Arif was used to refer to the adherents of spiritual journey or the prominent dignitaries of Gnosis. Even books that were written about the descriptions of Sufis were called as the “History of Sufis” not the "History of Urafa" (e.g. The History of Sufis by Sullami or The History of Sufis by Khaje Abdullah Ansari). The term "Labisa al-Suf" لَبِسَ الصّوف) meaning: He put on the woolen clothes) was used in the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.H. (corresponding to 8th and 9th centuries A.D.) to denote that a person was willing towards ‘asceticism’ (3). Of course, the meaning of asceticism in the term of this group was a specific meaning. Although Sufism, in order to achieve mystical experiences, usually requires asceticism and adherence to Islamic Sharia, the Sufis from the very beginning did not consider asceticism sufficient by itself; rather, they considered ‘asceticism intermingled with love’ as necessary to attain divine knowledge and perfection. (4) Therefore, it should be noted that Sufism refuses ‘absolute asceticism’ but not ‘asceticism entwined with divine love’. Many of the first elders of Sufism had been the followers of Imam Ali, the Commander of the Faithful, peace be upon him. (5) ************** As for the meaning of ‘mysticism’ (Irfan) at recent ages, Sufis often considered mysticism as Ma’rifat or (Gnosis), which is one of the stages in Solook (Spiritual Journey) (6). Ma’rifat, from the viewpoint of Sufis, is an objective contemplation not a subjective concept. Contrary to routine sciences which require rational training and rational practice, Ma’rifat requires people to redeem and purify their souls practically if they want to eventually attain the status of ‘resemblance to Haqq’. Some people have tried to differentiate between Sufism and mysticism (Irfan). According to them, although Sufism and mysticism (Irfan) seem to be close to each other, they are fundamentally different. These two terms refer to two types of religious life, both of which emphasize on abandonment of worldly desires and whatever is other than Almighty God. The difference between these two resides in the fact that Sufism regards the practical aspects of spiritual journey; while mysticism focuses on its theoretical aspects. In other words, Sufism is a manifestation of pragmatic and social aspects of mysticism which focuses on the observable aspects as well as practical custom and traditions of Spiritual Journey. Since the 3rd Century Hijri (9th century A.D.) Sufism has been used as synonymous with mysticism. This difference does not seem to be much deep-rooted. A Sufi, in his spiritual journey, achieves contemplative knowledge whose manifestation in the cognitive power of man is expressed through words like ‘Irfan’ and ‘Maarifat’. On the other hand, their practical and social manifestation is explained under the term ‘Sufism’. (8) It should be noted that anyone who joins Sufism may not necessarily attain the ultimate degree of spiritual journey except those who are included within special graces of Almighty God. Mysticism, in this sense, is against rigid asceticism as well as against the theoretical discussions taught in religious schools. (9) In fact, the perfection of those who are attached to Almighty Allah is their attribution to divine attributes and adherence to divine ethics. ******* From the era of the great Iranian poet Hafez (eighth century AH / fourteenth century A.D.) onwards, the word Sufi has got a negative meaning. The word Sufi had the same meaning as ‘Arif until the eighth century Hijri. Before 8th century Hijri (although the exact definition of Sufism is somewhat difficult or impossible for some) its meaning could be associated with the teachings of Islam which initially appeared in the form of asceticism and then in the framework of Sufi traditions in different lands and with various aspects of Islamic civilization (Islamic thoughts and art including Islamic philosophy, poetry, literature, music and architecture). ******* Majority of Shiites had also shown great respect for ‘true Sufis’. For example, Allameh Helli and many other Shiite scholars have honored prominent Sufis. Many of great and truthful Sufis such as Abu Yazid Bastami were proud to be at the service of Shiite Infallible Imams such as Imam Jafar al-Sadiq and Imam Ali ibn Musa al-Ridha (peace be upon them). Ma’rouf Karkhi was another great Sufi who converted to Islam on the hand of Imam Ali ibn Musa and was the guardian of Imam’s house up to the end of his life. (11) Also many of Shiite elders have had a tendency towards Sufism in its true and positive meaning. Many of them had even undergone pressures and attacks because of supporting Sufism’s viewpoints; examples of whom are Ibn Fahad Helli, Abi Jomhour al-Ahsaei, Kamaluddin Meysam ibn Ali al-Bahrani (interpreter of Nahjul-Balaghah), Shahid Sani, Seyyed Haidar Amoli, Sheikh Baha'i, Allameh Majlesi, Faiz Kashani, Abdul Razzaq Lahiji, Qazi Saeed Qomi, Mirfenderski, Mohammad Baqer Astarabadi, etc. Allameh Mohammad Baqer Majlesi, too, has defended true Sufism and called those who completely denied Sufism as ‘impercipient fellows’. (14) ****** In general, as mentioned above, from the era of Iranian poet Hafez onwards, especially in the late Safavid period, some people emerged who were only pretending to be Sufis by wearing woolen clothes; while, in fact, they were devoid of the values of true Sufism (15). Therefore, Sufism gradually lost its true meaning and the word Sufi was associated with a negative connotation. Afterwards, especially among the followers of Solook (spiritual journey) in Iran, the term Irfan (mysticism) was used instead of the word Sufism (Tasawwuf). Hence, great philosophers like Mulla Sadra and great narrators of hadith such as Sheikh Horr al-Ameli and Islmiac Jurisprudents like the author of Hadighat al-Shia started to issue statements against Sufism. Especially during the Safavid era, with the power of Islamic Jurisprudents who were mostly opposed to Sufis, a movement against Sufism was set up; and a number of books and writings appeared in condemnation of Sufism. [17] Even great Shia scholars such as Sheikh Baha'i, Mulla Sadra, and Faiz Kashani, who agreed on the basic teachings of Sufi predecessors, attacked on the sayings of ignorant Sufis who had newly emerged. (18) Since then, the term Sufism and Sufi bore a negative connotation even among the fans of Sufism ideology. As a result, authors tried to avoid using words like Sufi and Sufism in their works; instead, they used the words ‘Arif and Irfan, as these words, although their truth was nothing but the essence of true Sufism, led to less sensitivity among people of that time. After Safavid so far, this has been the case, at least in Iran, since the early 10th century, especially from the time of Shah Tahmasb, there were serious opposition to Sufism; and various works were written in the rejection of Sufism. It is worth mentioning that since the beginning of Shiite formation so far, traditionally, a group of grand Shiite Jurisprudents have opposed the teachings of Sufis in general or in part (20). However, what happened from the Safavid period onwards was that some great Shiite personalities who were supporters Sufi teachings, rose to oppose Sufis (for the reasons we mentioned). From the early 14th century Hijri (20th century A.D.), the intensity of the opposition against Sufism was diminished. (21) Conclusion: We should not confuse the word Sufi with our supposition that Sufi is one who necessarily lives apart from society and has forged a series of acts and rituals that are largely in conflict with the Sharia. The late professor Jalaluddin Homai, an Iranian man of letters, has defined up to twenty meanings for Sufism, none of them connotes such an opinion; instead, many of these meanings have a religious affirmation. (22) In addition, we know that the semantic meaning of Sufism, too, does not connote such meanings (isolation from society and the like). Indeed, some Sufis have differentiated between real Sufis and those swindlers who pretend to be Sufis in order to cheat people, gain money, and achieve their worldly desires. Nowadays, western and eastern scholars take it for granted that the origin of Sufism has been the inner truth of Islam although at some eras it has been affected by Greek & Neoplatonic philosophy or Christian and Gnostic elements and the teachings of Indian mysticism. However, such effects may be found in other branches of Islamic sciences (such as philosophy and theology) as well; therefore, this does not mean that the main source of Sufism has been somewhere outside the territory of Holy Quran and Sunnah, since the teachings of the Quran and the Sunnah are very rich in the field of esoteric sciences so that we will never need to search for alien sources. (26) Thanks for your kind attention; Remember us in your prayers!


(1). به عنوان نمونه رك: شقیق بلخی؛ رساله آداب العبادات؛ مقدمه و ترجمه نصرالله پورجوادی؛ معارف 1366 شماره 10. (2). دايرة المعارف تشيع، ج4،‌ ذيل ماده تصوف به نقل از: مقدمه ابن¬خلدون 3/1097 ـ 1098 و رساله القشيريه، 389. (3). شمس، محمد¬جواد؛ مباحث تاريخي تصوف، ذيل عنوان تصوف در دايرة المعارف بزرگ اسلامي، انتشارات مركز دايرة المعارف بزرگ اسلامي، 1387، ص 403 به نقل از قشيري، غني، 45 نيكلسون و بدوي، (4). رك: همان،‌ص 408 و 409. (5). رك: كامل مصطفي شيبي؛ الصلة بين التصوف و التشيع؛ ج1 و2، دار الاندلس ـ بيروت، الطبعة الثالثة، 1982م. (6). مقايسه كنيد با عبدالرزاق؛ شرح منازل، 246. (7). زرين¬كوب، عبدالحسين؛ دايرة المعارف بزرگ اسلامي ذيل عنوان تصوف و عرفان در اسلام، ج 8، ص469 به بعد. (8). دايرة المعارف بزرگ؛ ج 10 ص 604. (9). مولوي، مثنوي معنوي، به كوشش نيكلسون، تهران 1363، دفتر 1، بيت 3467 و زرين كوب، سرّ ني، تهران 1364 ش، 780-782. (10). عبادي، منصور؛ مناقب الصوفية؛ به كوشش نجيب مايل هروي، تهران، 1362ش، ص 29؛ افرادي نظير نيكلسن وشيمل؛ رك: دايرة المعارف بزرگ اسلامي؛ ج 8، ص 468. (11). شعراني، ابوالحسن؛ شرح تجريد الاعتقاد، (كتابخانه ديجيتالي مدرسه فقاهت) صفحه : 555ـ6. (12). العلامة الحلي؛ الرسالة السعدية؛ (كتابخانه ديجيتالي مدرسه فقاهت) صفحه : 27. (13). تذكرة الفقهاء - ط.ق نویسنده : العلامة الحلي جلد : 2 صفحه : 430 و الدروس الشرعية في فقه الإمامية نویسنده : الشهید الاول جلد : 2 صفحه : 275 همچنين بنگريد: كشف الغطاء عن مبهمات الشريعة الغراء( ط- الحديثة) (کاشف الغطاء) ، جلد : 4 ، صفحه : 244. همگي در كتابخانه ديجيتالي مدرسه فقاهت. (14). دايرة المعارف بزرگ، ج 15، ص 532 به بعد، نيز بنگريد: الأقطاب الفقهية على مذهب الإمامية؛ ابن أبي جمهور جلد : 1 صفحه : 14. پازوكي، شهرام؛ دانشنامه جهان اسلام، بنياد دايرةالمعارف اسلامي، تهران 1382، ج7، ص 391. (15). اسفنديار، محمودرضا؛ تصوف در ايران؛ دايرةالمعارف بزرگ، ج 15، ص 423. (16). نك: دايرة المعارف بزرگ، ج10، ص604ـ606. (17). اسفنديار، همان. (18). اسفنديار، پيشين، ص 424. (19). رك: دايرةالمعارف بزرگ، ج15، نقد تصوف ـ نقد اهل تشيع. (20). همان. (21). زرين¬كوب، عبدالحسين؛ دنباله جستجو در تصوف ايران؛ تهران، 1362، ص327 ـ 339. (22). رك: كاشاني عزالدين محمود؛ مصباح الهداية و مفتاح الكفاية؛ مقدمه، تصحيح و تحقيق جلال¬الدين همايي؛ مؤسسه نشر هما؛ بي تا؛ مقدمه ص 63. (23). رك: دايرة المعارف بزرگ؛ ج15 ص406. (24). رك: دانشنامه جهان اسلام؛ ج7، ص 249 ـ 251. (25). نصر، سيد حسين؛ اصول و مباني تصوف، ذيل عنوان تصوف در دايرة المعارف بزرگ اسلامي، ج15، ص 396 و شمس، محمد¬جواد؛ مباحث تاريخي تصوف، ذيل عنوان تصوف در دايرة المعارف بزرگ اسلامي، همان، ص 403. (26). رك: يزدان¬پناه، سيد يدالله؛ مباني و اصول عرفان نظري؛ انتشارات مؤسسه آموزشي و پژوهشي امام خميني(ره). ---------------------- Feedback Team for website in AhlulBayt (a.s) Portal

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