Theology, Sufism, Rituals, Modernity

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16 Feb 2011
World Religions November 8
, 2011.
Theology, Sufism, Rituals, Modernity
Reading: NONE
Mystical tradition – Sufism
Mystic – Sufi
Term comes from Suf refers to variety of wool
Coarse cloth that is typically the attire of Sufis
Group interested in simplicity of practice, less concerned with material wealth and
Much more vested in mystical contemplation of God
Sufism been in Islam from earliest times
Would witness Muhammad himself as a mystic, experiencing God
Flourished in 12
& 13
centuries where Sufism becomes institutionalized as a
series of lineages associated with particular charismatic masters
Relationship b/w master and discifial is key
Master or ients teaching to attributes, personality of discifial
Focuses on development of various aids to meditations, e.g. Breathing, other
methods of contemplation
Most common practice: dhikr – practice of the remembrance of God, constantly
dwelling on 99 names of God, constantly dwelling on memory of God
Developed and used music as an aid to mystical experience
Ecstasy of f inal reunion with God, sense of brotherhood the mystic experience
with all other people in world
Aims to experience the complete eradication of self and individuality in the
contemplation of God – fana
Credited with spread of Islam in large parts of world, e.g. south and south East
Sunni and Shia Split
Shia communities for m majority in place like Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon
Shia form minor ity communities in various parts of Muslim world
Recognized as their Imam
Sunni Imam means leader with political authority in ancient period of Islam but
modern times religious leader but not divinely ordain leader
Shia believe Imam someone who has much greater spiritual authority
Traditional Imam someone from household of Muhammad but as far as historical
record shows, bloodline of Muhammad more or less disappears in last quarter of
century (873)
Shia many centuries held conviction that Imam gone into hiding (given title at age
4 but disappeared) and would retur n someday
Mahdi – Imam whos disappeared but will return someday in later apolitical time
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