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Sufism and Jungian Psychology. 'I was a hidden treasure , and I yearned to be known. Hence I created the creatures and I made Myself known to them.‘ ( Hadith Qudsi ). I. Brief History of Islam.

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    Jungian Psychology

    'I was a hidden treasure , and I yearned to be known. Hence I created the creatures and I made Myself known to them.‘ (HadithQudsi)

    i brief history of islam
    I. Brief History of Islam
    • In the pre-Islamic era, Arabian Peninsula was largely dominated by paganism. It is said to be 360 idols housed in and around Ka’ba, representing every god recognized in the Arabian Peninsula. Muslims refer to this era as Jahiliyyah- “the Time of Ignorance”.

    The Prophet Muhammad emerged in Mecca at the beginning of 7th century , preaching a message of absolute monotheism and uncompromising morality. Through the revelations he received from God, Muhammad put an end to the paganism of the Arabs and replaced the “Time of Ignorance” with the universal religion of Islam, “There is no god, but God and Muhammad is his messenger”.

    • The tribe of Quraysh and its economic power
    • Yathrib-Medinah
    ii the emergence of sufism
    II. The Emergence of Sufism
    • In 632 C.E. when the Prophet Muhammad died, Islam was not yet a unified system of beliefs and practices. It took generations of theological development for the unfolding of Islamic thought, practices and the establishment of Islamic institutions.
    • The rightly guided ones, hadiths (Prophet’s sayings) and Qur’an.
    • Sufism is thought to be developed as a reaction to the increased materialistic life of Muslims during Abbasid Empire. It was a reactionary movement not just against the Imperial Islam of the Muslim Dynasties, but also against the rigid formalism of Islam’s orthodox “learned class”, the Ulama. (Aslan, 2005)
    • In the 9th century as Shariah(the Law) became codified, Sufism began to manifest itself as a distinct element in the Islamic community. The spirit that was in the air and everywhere at the beginning of the Revelation thus became consolidated within various Sufi orders so that it could continue as a living spiritual tradition. (Nasr, 1964)

    The early Sufi scholars vigorously employed ta’wil* to uncover the hidden meaning of Qur’an and concentrated their spiritual activities on devotion to the prophet Muhammad. For a person who participates in Sufism, who lives the life of a “follower of the Path”, the first and most perfect Sufi was the Prophet Muhammad and after him the representative of Islamic esotericism Ali ibnAbiTalib.

    • During the 10th century, when Islamic arts and sciences reached their zenith, the Sufi tradition began to express itself in large didactic works as well as in the vehicle of Persian poetry, main form of expression. (Nasr, 1964)
    origin of the word sufi
    Origin of the word “Sufi”
    • Derives from the Arabic word for wool (Suf), used in the rough garments worn by ascetics in the Near East for centuries. The world-denying attitude suggested by this etymology had a sharp significance in the early Islamic era, when the conquering Arab armies created an imperial court culture of lavish magnificence and self-indulgence.
    • Another suggested etymology is the Greek word for wisdom , sophia. “There is tempting symbolic connection between the two words. For if sophiais to be understood in its Aristotelian sense as “knowledge of ultimate things” then it is very much related to the term Sufi, just not linguistically” to quote from Reza Aslan.
    • According to Reza Aslan, “Sufism is a religious movement that can only be described; it cannot be defined”.
    • It is not a sect.
    • Sayings from early Sufi masters: “Sufism means that you own nothing and are owned by nothing.”; “Sufism means kneeling at the door of the Beloved, even if he turns you away.”; “Sufism is a state in which the conditions of humanity disappear.”; “Sufism means seizing spiritual realities and giving up on what creatures possess.”
    • Examples of sayings are countless. Definitions of Sufism are in effect teaching tools. (Carl Ernst, 1997)*

    Sufism is to Islam, what the heart is to the human-beings; its vital center, the seat of its essence (Aslan, 2005)*It is a living tradition of human transformation through love and higher consciousness.-The fundamental framework is the Qur'an as it has been understood over the centuries by the great Sufis.

    In their rituals and practices the Sufis sought the annihilation of the nafs.* We see this in all mystical movements, but there are a few very important differences between Sufism and traditional mysticism.

    • Islam is a communal religion and it abhors radical and reclusive individualism. ShaykHaeri writes, “ a true Sufi does not separate the inner from the outer” (Aslan, 2005)

    Secondly, the Qur’an derides celibacy, another common tradition in mysticism. A significant portion of Revelation is dedicated to the strengthening and preservation of the family.

    • And finally, the traditional religious mysticism tends to remain “attached” to its “parent” religion, whereas Sufism –though born from Islam- treats its parent as a shell that must be cast off if one is to experience direct knowledge of God (Aslan, 2005). In other words formal religion of Islam is the prelude to Sufism. Still, that does not mean that Sufism rejects Islam and its religious and legal requirements altogether. Despite the violent Shi’ite and Sunni accusations to the contrary, Sufis are Muslims and they pray and worship as Muslims. They use Muslim symbols, follow Muslim creed and rituals. But they consider all orthodoxy (all traditional teachings, the law, theology and the Five Pillars) inadequate for attaining true knowledge of God.

    “Why spend time reading a love letter (the Qur’an) in the presence of the Beloved who wrote it?”


    Parable of Simurgh ( The conference of the Birds by 12th century Persian alchemist /physician Farid ad-Din Attar*)

        • Valley of the Quest
        • Valley of Love
        • Valley of Mystery
        • Valley of Detachment
        • Valley of Unity
        • Valley of Bewilderment
        • Valley of Nothingness

    IV. Two Great Sufi Masters (Qutbs = Poles of their time)

    • 1. Muhyi al-Din Ibn al-'Arabi (1165-1240)-
    • The Path of Knowledge
    • Born in Murcia, Spain in 1165
    • Travelled extensively in Muslim Empire of the time and lived in several places, including Tunis, Morocco, Mecca, Konya (Anatolia), Cairo, Aleppo, Damascus.
    • Most important works: “Meccan Revelations”, “The Interpreter of Desires”, “The Bezels of Wisdom”.
    • Had several visions which inspired his books (some around 14,000 pages).
    • Disciple of Khidr.
    • Died in Damascus in 1240.
    • Is known as “Shaykh al-Akbar”, the Greatest Shaykh or Doctor Maximus
    • Surnamed Muhyi al-Din , the Revivifier of Religion.
    continued ibn al arabi
    Continued: Ibn al-Arabi
    • Wahdat al-Wujud (The Oneness of Being):
    • Whereas the divine Essence is absolutely unknowable, the cosmos as a whole is the locus of manifestation of all God's attributes. Moreover, since these attributes require the creation for their expression, the One is continually driven to transform itself into Many. ( The number 1*)
    • The goal of spiritual realization is therefore to penetrate beyond the exterior multiplicity of phenomena to a consciousness of the 'unity of existence'. This entails the abolition of the ego or 'passing away from self' (fana') in which one becomes aware of absolute unity, followed by '‘subsistence” (baqa') in which one sees the world as One and Many, and one is able to see God in the creature and the creature in God.

    Insan al-Kamil (The Perfect Man):

    • The Real (al-Haqq) created the cosmos as an all-inclusive object in which he could contemplate the entities of his names, but until he created Adam and breathed his spirit into him, the cosmos remained like an unpolished mirror.
    • The cosmos is essentially a set of mirrors in which Divine Realities(names) are reflected (Nasr, 1964).
    • Man, as a microcosm endowed with consciousness, is capable of polishing his cosmic mirror , but in practice men differ in their polishing of the cosmic mirror, with only a select few realizing their primordial nature. These are the prophets and saints (awliyah), all of whom belong to the category of 'the perfect man' (al-insan al-kamil). They alone assume the character traits of God, which are latent in all human beings, and manifest them in perfect equilibrium.

    Alam al-Mithal (The world of Images/MundusImaginalis):

    • According to Ibn al-Arabi, the cosmos comprises a hierarchy of three distinct worlds:
      • the 'world of spirits',
      • 'the world of images'
      • 'the world of bodies'.
    mevlana jalaluddin rumi 1207 1273 the path of love
    MevlanaJalaluddinRumi (1207-1273)- The Path of Love
    • Poet of the heart (as DarianePictet puts it)
    • Born in Balkh, the center of Muslim culture since 8th century until Mongol invasion.
    • The son of an eminent Sufi scholar, Bahauddin.
    • Settled in Konya –present day Turkey
    • Met Shams-iTabrizi in Konya
    • Died in Konya in 1273
    • Two monumental poetic works:
    • * Diwan-i Shams-iTabrizi (40,000 verses)
    • *Mathnawi (25,000 verses)

    Rumi presents a kaleidoscopic image of God, man, the world and the interrelationship of these three realities. Despite the complexity of the picture Rumi paints, his teachings express a single reality, the overriding reality of Rumi’s existence and of Islam itself: “There is no god, but God.”

    “How many words the world contains! But all have one meaning.

    When you smash the jugs, the water is one.”

    (D 32108, from Chittick)

    dichotomy between form and meaning
    DichotomyBetween Form and Meaning
    • The world is a collection of a myriad of forms (Zahir, outward). By its very nature each form displays its own meaning (Batin, inward), which is its reality with God. It is man’s task not to be deceived by the form. He must understand that form does not exist for its own sake, but manifests a meaning above and beyond itself.
    • This is the foundation of Rumi’s teachings and must be kept constantly in mind. (Chittick, 1983)
    • Meaning is opposite to form and can only be attained by form’s negation, by “formlessness”. *
    • “Things become clear through their opposites”…Only God has no opposite, that is why we cannot know him. He has no opposite to “make Him clear”.
    illusion of dichotomy
    Illusion of Dichotomy
    • Form (outward) and meaning(inward) are inextricably connected: form derives from meaning, and meaning manifests itself as form. They are two aspects of a single reality. For example, things are good and evil in relation to us, not in relation to God, for in His eyes all things are performing but one task: making the Hidden Treasure manifest. * (Chittick, p. 53)

    “I am a lover of both his benevolence and severity!Amazing it is that I'm in love with these opposites! “


    Ishq (Intense Love)

    One went to the door of the Beloved and knocked.

    A voice asked: “Who is there?’

    He answered, “It is I.”

    The voice said, “There is no room for Me and Thee.”

    The door was shut.

    After a year of solitude and deprivation

    He returned and knocked.

    A voice from within asked, “Who is there?”

    The man said, “It is Thee.’

    The door was opened for him. (Shafii, 1985)

    song of the reed by rumi
    Song of the Reed by Rumi
    discussion on where sufism meets jung
    Discussion on where Sufism meets Jung
    • Eros principle
    • Symbolism
    • The “Ocean” vs. the Unconscious
    • Zahir & Batin vs. Consciousness & Unconscious
    • Dreamwork
    • Imaginal World
    • The Perfect Man vs. the Wholeness/Individuation
    • Shayk vs. The Old Wise Man
    • Simurg Parable vs. the Self Archetype
    • Aslan, Reza (2006) No God But God, New York: Random House Trade
    • Chittick, William (1983) The Sufi Path of Love: The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi, NY, Albany: State University of New York Press
    • Corbin, Henry (1969) Creative Imagination in the Sufism of IbnArabi, Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press
    • Ernst, Carl (1997) The Shambala Guide to Sufism, Boston, MA: Shambala Publications, Inc.
    • Friedlander, Shems (2003) Rumi and the Whirling Dervishes, New York: Parabola Books
    • Izutsu Toshihiko (1983) Sufism and Taoism, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press
    references continued
    • Nasr, SeyyedHossein (1964) Avicenna, Suhrawardi, IbnArabi, Delmar, New York: Caravan Book
    • Pictet, Dariane (2009) “Rumi: The Poet of Heart” in I. Meier, S. Wirth, J. Hill (eds) Intimacy: Venturing the Uncertainties of the Heart, New Orleans, LA: Spring Journal, Inc
    • Sartorius, Bernard (2009) “A Glance at IbnArabi’sTarjuman al-Ashwaq (The Interpreter of Desires)” in I. Meier, S. Wirth, J. Hill (eds) Intimacy: Venturing the Uncertainties of the Heart, New Orleans, LA: Spring Journal, Inc
    • Shafii, Mohammad (1985) Freedom From the Self: Sufism, Meditation and Psychotherapy, New York: Human Sciences Press, Inc.