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 poetically:

God, the best of proposers,
will unite the lover
and the loved one...
He guides us to the Fount of Light,
to Himself,
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.



Divine Encounters
The Sufi Path


site design
site last modified on 05/28/06
"Divine Encounters"
copyright © Brian A. Bain
all other content copyright © 1999-2012