The Sufi Path
Consistent with, although not unique to, the Islamic
tradition is the means by which one attains the vision of God.
'Iraqi asks, "He is a Light, how shall I see Him?"44
This question is answered in a number of ways. Ibn
'Arabi says that "the Beatific Vision... impregnates the elect
with Divine Light, each experiencing the vision according to the
knowledge of the Divine dogma, or dogmas, gained by him on earth."45
For Maneri, pureness of heart is the key: "When the mirror of
the heart is thoroughly cleansed of the rust of human nature and
selfish qualities, it becomes capable of reflecting lights from
the extrasensory world.... As purity of heart increases, so too
do the power and frequency of these lights...."46
Conversely, the lack of such purity is an obstacle to the Sufi.
As Rumi tells us,
|Would you have eyes and ears
of reason clear,
Tear off the obstructing veil of greed!
The blind imitation of that Sufi
proceeded from greed;
Greed closed his mind
to the pure light....47
Above all, though, consistent with the central meaning
and message of Islam, God leads to His light those whom He chooses.
Sixteenth century Sufi Shah Abdul Karim expressed this sentiment
|God, the best of proposers,
will unite the lover
and the loved one...
He guides us to the Fount of Light,
So to our source we all return....48
Ultimately, the last stanza tells us what might
well be the destiny of us all. If that source is the same one
to which the Sufis refer, then that holds a bright promise for
the life after this one, to say the least.
Given the sharp parallels, it is clear that Sufi
mystics have plenty in common with other mystical traditions.
The encounter with the Light, and the associated feelings of love
and supreme happiness are too obvious to ignore. Given this common
ground, we should not be at all surprised by differences. Sufis
interpret their experience according to the precepts of the religion
in which they were raised. The most stunning fact is that even
though the traditions under investigation are otherwise chasms
apart culturally, and ages apart in time, the common experience
still shines through clearly.