SAMPLE PAGE : Beginning of Chapter Four
THE MEANING OF TASAWWUF (Sufism)
Tasawwuf can be called the inwardness
of Islam. Islam like most other faiths to a greater or lesser
extent, consists firstly of certain beliefs, such as the existence
of God, and coming of the Judgment, and reward and punishment
in the next life, and the outward expression of these beliefs
in the form of worship, such as prayer and fasting, all of
which concerns man's relationship with God; and secondly, a system of morality,
which concerns man's relationship with man, and has an outward
expression on certain institutions and laws such as marriage,
inheritance, and civil and criminal laws.
But it is obvious that the basis of this faith, the spirit
that gives it life, is man's relationship with God. Forms
of worship are simply the physical vehicles of this relationship,
and it is this relationship again which is responsible for
the origin, the significance and the ultimate sanction of
the principles of morality and their formulation into a specific
social and legal system.
If the interior converse with the Supreme Being and inspiration
from Him are present, then they are comparable to the soul
within the body of the exterior religion; if they die away,
or in proportion to the extent they wither or become feeble,
the outward form of the faith becomes like a soul-less body,
which by inexorable law of nature swiftly succumbs to corruption.
It is therefore man's direct relationship with his Maker which
is the breath and life of religion, and it is the study and
cultivation of this relationship that the word Tasawwuf connotes.