RELI 1710: JUDAISM, CHRISTIANITY AND ISLAM
Mystical Dimensions of Islam is a book written by Annemarie Schimmel which discussed about Sufism. Sufism is also known as Islamic mysticism as it deals with something mysterious that cannot be explained by ordinary means or by intellectual effort. There are few characteristics for someone to be considered as a Sufi. The characteristics are they view world as not important and they love to be alone with God. They love God so much that they did feel happy to be given a pain and test from God. The book begins by talking about how Sufism cannot be easily described as it is so broad and there are various aspects about it. To understanding Sufism, it is better to understand mysticism first. Mysticism, as describes by Schimmel, contains something mysterious, not to be reached by ordinary means or by intellectual effort (3). It can only be explained by the wisdom of heart or gnosis. To do this, one must free themselves from the world. It can also be defined as the divine love as it is love towards God that make someone can bear and enjoy the tests that are given by God in order to test and purify one’s soul. She also talks about two different types of mystical experiences. There are Mysticism of Infinity and Mysticism of Personality. Mysticism of Infinity concerns about the world possesses only a “limited reality”, which derives its conditioned existence from the Absolute Existence of the Divine (5). Mysticism of Personality concerns about the relationship between man and God. As it is difficult to study about Sufism, Schmmel suggests that Sufism should be study through an analysis of given structure. It can be done by analysing the language as well symbols and images used by the Sufi. The studying of language helps to determine the formative period of Sufi thought while the study of symbols and images can help determine the contribution of them in Islamic language, literatures and arts. The scholars begin to study the origin and early development of Sufism when historical sources and important Sufi texts were made available in print both in the Middle East and European. However, the sources are not reliable. Several writers produced a book about Sufism such as F. A. D Tholuck, A.J. Arberry and E. H. Palmer. All of them have their own opinion about the origin of Sufism but the most famous one is Sufism is considered as Iranian development inside Islam. Neoplatonism, Christian, Indian, and Chinese are said to have influence on the development of the Sufism because of the parallel tradition between Sufism and the other mentioned tradition. Schimmel also talks about how the Sufis interpret the meaning of Sufism. It is said that the Arabian like to play with the root ‘Safa’ to interpret the meaning of Sufism. Safa means purity. It is said that Sufi is someone Sufism is someone who is completely absorbed in Divine Beloved and does not think of anything else other than Him (16). There are two different types of Sufi, which are, mutasawwif and mustawif. Mutasawwif is someone who is aspires at reaching a higher spiritual level while mustawif is a man who pretends to be a mystic (20). One of the leading western orientalist used to say that Sufism is the attempt to reach individual salvation through attaining the true tauhid (23). The true tauhid means that one only worship Allah as one’s God and there is no other God other than Him. Schimmel focuses on the history of Sufism so that the readers can know several famous Sufis and know who is classified as a Sufi. Sufism is said to be taken origin from Prophet Muhammad and it is inspired by Koran. Koran is important for Muslim as by reading and understanding Koran, only then man can know God. Schimmel introduced some of the famous Sufi during the formative period such as Fudayl ibn Iyad, Bishr, Shaqiq al Balkhi and Rabi’a al-Adawiyya. Fudayl is famous for his way of converting to a Muslim after hearing a verse from the Koran. Bishr is known...
Bibliography: Schimmel, Annemarie. 1975. Mystical Dimensions of Islam.Chapel Hill: University of north Carolina Press.
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