Exploring Sufism/ Mysticism

About a year ago, a friend asked me a question on the email, in response to a play I sent for a review. The play was written by me along my sister, it’s based on the spectacular union of Rumi and Tabrizi, it uses the poems of Rumi to highlight his journey. Well, the play got praise but along that came a question: “What’s your take on a Sufism?”.

I had never thought of “my take” specially on subject this complex before… It’s of course not like my usual ones… leadership, education, project management, high performance culture, or artificial intelligence; or array of other social/ technical  subjects I am so comfortable expressing about. Since after years of my time with them, they have begun to come natural to me.  But subject like this have tendency to perplex me, no matter how many times I visit them, I find myself out of my depth, they invite that level of detailed probing, dedicated learning, and ecstatic experience.

Since the time I’ve started publishing poems online, many of which do touch the boundaries of mysticism and the stages of the soul pondered on by different mystics and philosophers. The same question has come to me again and again. This is my attempt to summarize the response at one place.

Since Mysticism/ Sufism is a vast subject, it’s no doubt that it can’t be defined in a page or so, my attempt here is to show what “Sufism” in general sense means to me… (or what I’ve personally learned about it).

1. Focus on essence vs. the form; Whatever we do just for the sake of doing it, shouldn’t be done. It’s the journey that matters more than a destination. What we see is an illusion, reality or truth is very different, so we shouldn’t be sure of anything except a possibility of fact that we can be wrong. So one should strive focusing on the essence of the things, and not different forms that it can garner.

2. Suffering is an eternal part of life. All life forms prevail to a better level, when they struggle and learn from their suffering. In this way suffering leads to salvation.

3. Nothing lasts forever, the only constant in the world is “change” itself. Since everything changes, and keeps changing, the change in the world is tied in a loop. There’s no beginning, nor an end.

4. What begins with a curiosity and yearning, ends in a bewilderment. No matter how much is known, due to things changing constantly on big and small scale, our scale in comparison is minor and frozen. Yet even in minutest of thing, the biggest of the secret of universe is reflected. Hence, the universe never ceases to amaze us. Sufi keeps self always open for new experiences.

5. Belief in formless God, God is not a divine entity that intervenes in worldly matters, punishes, rewards or takes decision the way we humans think and do. God is wholeness of the system, the collective consciousness, of which, we’re a very tiny part. The laws of the system operate on a single constant/ variable i.e: change. Agent feeds an environment, while environment feeds an agent, and hence things change state. Either from concentrated state to dilute one, or vice versa. Since everything is made up of same energy and has a same origin, Sufi is unable to differentiate, hence has a compassion and love for everything. Oneness as a whole and unity is an essence. This relates to the theory of Pantheism, where God is not personal or anthropomorphic.

6. Many believe that Sufism preaches that one has to live a life distancing self from the worldly matters, while contrary is true. Sufi’s code is to live life as lean as possible, and to see no difference between worldly or spiritual/ meditating manners. Every act has to be performed in a state least disturbing to the order of universe. Since without an action-feedback mechanism specie can’t survive, every action Sufi performs is disciplined in a way that it’s as less harmful and disturbing to self and environment as possible. Sufi just believes in detachment from materialism – doing things for just show-up, as this doesn’t align with philosophy of focusing on essence.

7. I relate Sufism to Scientific Meditation and Mindfulness, Fanna and Baqa in Islam, Christian Salvation, Hindu Mokhsh, Buddhist Nirvana, Zen philosophy from Japan and Chinese Taoism (Yin-Yang and effortless effort philosophy). When seen in light of rationalism, it can be related to Confucianism and Sikhism as well. In general all literature of enlightenment or heightened consciousness relates with each other. So religion and culture may differ, but underlying principles discovered by philosophers/ meditation guides and Sufi masters share a great degree of essence.

I’m no philosopher, I’m no artist, I’m no expert. I’m just a man who’s passionate and curios, who loves to explore and ponder. That’s what I have attempted for major part in my life and that’s what I wish to continue doing.

Usually my takes differ every six months or year… I can’t adhere my whole life to a single reference, single philosophy, single routine/ practice, or single ideology. I strive for better explanations, progressing grounds – an understanding that’s more more fitting, more appropriate. I like to update, to evolve, to adapt; to unlearn to learn; to get amazed by universe’s beauty and vastness in comparison to my naiveness. Even if concepts and ideas that I like and adore don’t change completely, they do evolve each year by certain percentage.

I hope world sees this article as an expression of a curios and continuously learning mind, and participates with me for more enlightenment on a subject. 🙂

Related (on Serenades of a Dreamer):

Collection of mystic poems: https://alisohani.wordpress.com/tag/mystic/

Collection of poems on Stages of the Soul: https://alisohani.wordpress.com/tag/stages-of-the-soul/

The Revelation

This poem is a response to Shereen Aljarrah‘s splendidly vivid piece: “Confession“.

After Attar’s ‘The Conference  of the Birds’ - By: Francesco Clemente

Journey for Union of Love

I desire you
like flower desires the Sun,
like leaves desire the dew-drops;
to survive, to grow,
to have a constant alluring glow.

I praise you
like a man who spends whole night
as a drunk, in the stupor.
Though lips don’t confess,
heart still sings your appraisals.

I miss you
like a poet remembers
the favorite crescent,
always mercurial in face.
Yet remaining the same
in the essence.

I perceive you
like mystic observes
the beloved’s presence,
in nothing with sole appearance,
yet in everything that’s present.

I honor you
like samurai treats the code of the warrior,
as monk treats the patience.
With utmost sincerity
and devotion to the way.
Destined to fall in all other case.

I seek your disclosures,
like a steadfast wanderer,
a journey man who cherishes
the marvels of the way
more than finding a static destination.

I mix in you
like waves merge in the ocean,
like sand rolls in a desert,
like ice melts in a water,
like wind dwells with the fire.
Emerging out as a single entity in the end.

– Dedicated to the lovers who love the very idea of love, for they have to journey through the stages of eternal love.

Image Credits: After Fariduddin Attar‘s ‘The Conference of the Birds’ – by Francesco Clemente (maryboonegallery.com)


This is a response post for the Maria Imran‘s celestial short story: “Lordly

Fawning subservient – ready for an unconditional surrender…
One who had an absolute resolve to be possessed and owned by the beloved.

A total submission like never seen before!
An eternal consummation never imagined!

The seamless compliance was not for the sake of anyone except himself.
The selfishness was indeed an inseparable part of the trade.

Neither any earth-walker nor any spirit-dweller…
ever knew what happened to the artist or the master after the act.

A curious young mind, as restless as a faithless wind…
hearing the story, commits himself to a quest.
Everyone knows the beginning of the story,
no one knows the climax.

Story of “A king and the artist”, where artist requested forever to be accompanied by a king, to remain together in exchange of the masterpiece he created reflecting the king’s grace.
Was intriguing to every heart, fascinating for each mind and lordly for all souls.

He became so determined that he embarked on a journey towards long forsaken land.
Thinking what couldn’t be earned after uncovering the secrets of such once in an eons event.

It has been ages since the occurrence.
No memory, No paper…
potent enough to hold the true essence.
No wall, No promise either…

Years passed without any information, regarding the other end of the bargain.

After years of dwelling in a same place,
Famished – loosing all hope to sustain.
Young man – not so young anymore
began to track his foot-steps back.

Loosing all the spark, he began to depart from the abandoned place.
And just then – along the way back, he encountered an old man.

As a last resort, like some seasoned hunter catching an easy prey, he inquired to him about the rare event as well.

An old man hardly able to sustain his own weight.
said he belongs to this place,
he served the King’s palace like forever…
and claimed to be the witness.

One can’t imagine the jolt of energy that it gave the young man.
Like all nerves getting restored in one moment after being numb for decades.

But confessed the old man, he didn’t see a thing after that…
He only remembers the last words of life from that event:

Taumal Fuheed Conjun

Old man left the last breath
with an echo of words
now lingering inside
the young man’s head.

Words in his mind were sketched
like memorial slab reserves
parting text – engraved.

They soon began to dissolve
in his mind like white-stone melts
during the star’s appearance.

He has to write them down, before they’re lost.

He scratched them on a rocky surface,
from where a sound of a sea water
splashing the neighborhood rocks
can be heard as clear as
an early morning rain.

What does it mean?
Why those words?
Where did they come from?
All questions in his mind,
unsettling him like a perplexing vortex.

The curious man then never left the place.
Daily came to the stone to sharpen the words, so that the edges still remain.
Finding himself always in some marvel amazement.

All his life dedicated
to find the meaning of the words
that had him absorbed
right from the mind
to body’s each membrane.

Ages passed now, he’s dying as well.
It has been days since he didn’t visit the place where words are sketched.
His whole life flashing down in a memory lane…
all goals and ambitions surrounded around uncovering that event.
All desires sanctified,
just questions remaining like a parting wish of a dying man.

Soon his eyes began to close,
he found himself in the water,
caressed by radiant warmth,
like it was lifting him above…
Each step towards the circle of shine…
Getting closer to the bright star.

Certain distance away from the ocean,
at the height of the frozen motion…
He got cold, being gradually swiped away
just like the way time pushes the old memories…
Looking like a collection of snow flakes
spread and sliding in the sky!

From there above, he saw a young man
around the rock he scribbled the letters on…

“Taumal Fuheed Conjun”

Gliding above the ocean…
He smiled,
like he knew the meaning.

There are no regrets…

Rocks, Sea and Clouds!

“Admire Majestic Union”

– Dedicated to the ciphered message and its deliverance, essence of which is known only to some fortunate souls!

Image Credits: highresolution-wallpapers.net