Sufism is described as the mystical dimension of Islam. Classical Sufi scholars have defined Sufism as “a science whose objective is the reparation of the heart and turning it away from all else but God.” Alternatively, in the words of the Darqawi Sufi teacher Ahmad ibn Ajiba, Sufism is “a science through which one can know how to travel into the presence of the Divine, purify one’s inner self from filth, and beautify it with a variety of praiseworthy traits.” The world famous poet Rumi himself was a Sufi mystic.
Sudan is particularly interesting in relation to this topic, because they have one of the largest Sufi communities in the world. See pictures below.
“In Omdurman, the largest city in Sudan, the Qadiriyya Sufi order meets every Friday outside Sheikh Hamed Al Nil mosque, which houses the tomb of their 19th century Sufi leader.” (Image and Text Source – The Guardian)
“As the sun lowers, a sound system crackles to life with Islamic chants. Followers sway backwards and forwards and form a large circle around a troupe of musicians.”
“‘I’ll tell you a secret – if you’ll believe me,’ shouts Ahmed Mohamed Alamin, a 30-year old pharmacist, over raucous cymbals and drums. ‘During dhikr, we fly to the heavens.’” (Image and Text Source – The Guardian)
“In stark contrast to the white jalabiya [long dress] worn by most male members of the assembly, the dervish elders distinguish themselves by sporting more brightly coloured and patterned outfits.” (Image and Text Source – The Guardian)
For more information and pictures, go to the GUARDIAN for original article.
Poetry from Rumi, 13th Century, Persian Sufi Mystic
O’ day, arise!
Shine your light, the atoms are dancing.
Thanks to Him the universe is dancing.
overcome with ecstasy,
Free from body and mind
I’ll whisper in your ear where their dance is leading them.
All the atoms in the air and in the desert are dancing,
puzzled and drunken to the ray of light,
they seem insane.
All these atoms are not so different than we are,
happy or miserable,
perplexed and bewildered,
we are all beings in the ray of light from the beloved,
nothing can be said.
Rumi is a 13th century, Persian poet and considered a Sufi Saint by many. While Rumi was an Islamic poet, his poetry has a transcendent appeal among various cultures world wide. His poems contain a deep theme of creative love and the urge to rejoin the spirit to the divine. He believed that this was the goal of every living thing that moved, human, animal or mineral.
Not only is the poem above exquisitely beautiful in terms of rhyme scheme, but it has a deep scientific and spiritual significance when you really think about it.
Let’s take this concept of atoms dancing in the light of the divine.
While the “atom” itself wasn’t physically discovered until the 19th century, early Greek and Indian philosophers had an idea of an atom as an indivisible particle that was the smallest unit of matter. “The Poem of Atoms” captures the idea of every living thing, even the smallest pieces of matter, are participating in a universal dance in the light of the divine.
Today scientists know that sub-atomic particles rotate around a nucleus, planets rotate around stars, stars circle around galaxies and that life occurs in cycles. Everything from the infinitely small to the infinitely large is participating in an orbit – a form of cosmic dance with no clear beginning or end.
The next key piece of imagery here is divine light: “We are all beings in the ray of light from the beloved.” Light is necessary for life. Without the light of the sun, none of us would be here. Light has a variety of meanings in poetry, it could be the light of the sun, the light of knowledge, illumination, or the Divine itself.
The last significant verse I’ll mention is the following: “All these atoms are not so different than we are.”
All life is made up of the same particles. You and I are made up of the hydrogen and helium of the stars that formed this galaxy billions of years ago. All life forms are made up of the same atoms, the same particles and the same star stuff.
When we die, our bodies may decompose and our memories may fade, but the atoms and particles that make up our being will rejoin the universe in the endless, ecstatic dance of life.