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Sufi philosophy

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Title: Sufi philosophy  
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Sufi philosophy

Sufi philosophy includes the schools of thought unique to Sufism, a mystical branch within Islam. Sufism and its philosophical traditions may be associated with both Sunni Islam and Shia Islam. It has been suggested that Sufi thought emerged from the Middle East in the eighth century, but adherents are now found around the world.[1] It was around 1000 CE that early Sufi literature, in the form of manuals, treatises, discourses and poetry, became the source of Sufi thinking and meditations. Sufi philosophy, like all other major philosophical traditions, has several sub-branches including metaphysics and cosmology as well as several unique concepts.


One influential early writer on Sufi philosophy was Al-Ghazali (1058–1111). He discussed the concept of the self and the causes of its misery and happiness.


Major ideas in Sufi metaphysics have surrounded the concept of Wahdat or "Unity with God". Two main Sufi philosophies prevail on this controversial topic. Wahdat-ul-Wujood (Unity of Being) essentially states that the only truth within the universe is God, and that all things exist within God only. Wahdat-ul-Shuhud (Apparentism, or Unity of Witness), on the other hand, holds that any experience of unity between God and the created world is only in the mind of the believer and that God and his creation are entirely separate.It is the state where there is no difference between God and human being who is trying to achieve a particular state i.e. 'No One Except God'.


Sufi cosmology has three main schools that are often somewhat incongruously combined, the Ishraqi visionary universe as expounded by Suhrawardi Maqtul, the Neoplatonic view, and the Hermetic-Ptolemaic spherical geocentric world.


Drawing from Qur'anic verses, virtually all Sufis distinguish Lataif-as-Sitta ("the six subtleties") as: Nafs, Qalb, Sirr, Ruh, Khafi, and Akhfa. These lataif (singular: latifa) designate various psychospiritual "organs" or, sometimes, faculties of sensory and suprasensory perception. They are thought to be parts of the self in a similar manner to the way glands and organs are part of the body.

Subtle bodies

Ruh (spirit)

The Sufi, mostly, believe in a strong spirit. You can make your spirit strong through the practice you get through the teaching of a Spiritual Teacher [Shaykh]. If you make your spirit strong according to the teaching of Islam, then you can get on the way which leads to Allah. Death does not mean 'The End' it is turn to enter in new life which is entirely different from the life which he has spent. Death is only temporary separation of Ruh from Body. Which was mixed by God to provide life.


Nasma is the Sufi term for the subtle or Astral Body. It is not to be confused with the Ruh (spirit) which transcends both nasma and physical form.

Physical body

Sufism demarcates the physical body from the Nasma.

Spiritual states


A haal is a state of consciousness, generally a product of spiritual practices, recognised in Sufism. Each haal (state) is associated with a maqaam (station) of along the spiritual path.


A Manzil in Sufism is a plane of consciousness. There are seven Manzils along the path to God. The Manzils are also parts of the Qur'an which help in protecting one from sorcery.


A maqaam is one's spiritual station or developmental level, as distinct from one's haal, or state of consciousness. This is seen as the outcome of one's effort to transform oneself, whereas the haal is a gift.

Concepts in Gnosis


Fanaa is the Sufi term for extinction. It means to annihilate the self, while remaining physically alive. Persons having entered this state are said to have no existence outside of, and be in complete unity with, Allah. Fanaa is equivalent to the concept of nirvana in Buddhism, Sikhism and Hinduism or moksha in Hinduism which also aim for annihilation of the self or mukhti in Sikhism.

The nature of fanaa consists of the elimination of evil deeds and lowly attributes of the flesh. In other words, fanaa is abstention from sin and the expulsion from the heart of all love other than the Divine Love; expulsion of greed, lust, desire, vanity, show, etc. In the state of fanaa the reality of the true and only relationship asserts itself in the mind. One realizes and feeds that the only real relationship is with Allah Ta'ala fanaa means to destroy your self. if you destroy your self in the love of Allah then that fanaa will convert into entire life means abdi zindgi. and for that one you have to destroy your will and yourself on the will of Allah.


A person's Baqaa, which literally means permanency, is a term in Sufi philosophy which describes a particular state of life with God. Inayat Khan writes in his book A Sufi message of spiritual liberty,

"The ideal perfection, called Baqa by Sufis, is termed 'Najat' in Islam, 'Nirvana' in Buddhism, 'Salvation' in Christianity, and 'Mukhti' in Hinduism. This is the highest condition attainable, and all ancient prophets and sages experienced it, and taught it to the world. Baqa is the original state of God. At this state every being must arrive some day, consciously or unconsciously, before or after death. The beginning and end of all beings is the same, difference only existing during the journey."
"Perfection is reached by the regular practice of concentration, passing through three grades of development: Faná -fi-Shaikh, annihilation in the astral plane, Faná-fi-Rasul, annihilation in the spiritual plane, and Faná-fi-Allah, annihilation in the abstract. After passing through these three grades, the highest state is attained of Bá qi-bi-Allah, annihilation in the eternal consciousness, which is the destination of all who travel by this path."

The two ideas are enjoined in the concept fana’ wa baqa’ (annihilation of the self and abiding in God).


Yaqeen is generally translated as "certainty", and is considered the summit of the many maqaams (stations) by which the path of walaya (sometimes translated as Sainthood) is fully completed.

Other concepts


Haqiqa or Haqiqat is the Sufi term for the supreme Truth or absolute Reality.


Marifa (or alternatively 'marifah') literally means knowledge. The term is used by Sufi Muslims to describe mystical intuitive knowledge, knowledge of spiritual truth as reached through ecstatic experiences rather than revealed or rationally acquired.


Ihsan is an Arabic term meaning "perfection" or "excellence." Ihsan is the goal or aim of Sufi practices.


  1. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica 2005

Further reading

Books. pp. 54–88. ISBN 0-8356-0778-X. An imprint of the Theosophical Publishing House.

  • Shah, Idries (2001). The Sufis. London, UK: Octagon Press.

pp. 394–395. ISBN 0-86304-020-9.

  • Rahimi, Sadeq (2007).

Intimate Exteriority: Sufi Space as Sanctuary for Injured Subjectivities in Turkey., Journal of Religion and Health, Vol. 46, No. 3, September 2007; pp. 409–422

p. 191

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