definitions of sufism

The Story of Sufism

The Foundations of Traditional and Universalist Sufism [1]

Netanel Miles-Yépez

Image from the Peck Shahnamah. 16th century, Shiraz. Princeton University Library.

Image from the Peck Shahnamah. 16th century, Shiraz. Princeton University Library.

Once, long ago, tea was unknown outside of China. But slowly, word of its reputation as a ‘celestial’ or ‘heavenly drink’ made its way down the Silk Road and into the various kingdoms which it connected.

In one of these kingdoms, a kingdom called Inja—‘here’—the king had heard rumors of the celestial drink, and being curious to know if such a thing actually existed, decided to send ambassadors to the Emperor of China, seeking permission to taste this thing called ‘tea’ for themselves.

Thus, the ambassadors of Inja made the long journey up the Silk Road into China where, finally reaching the gates of the Emperor’s palace, they were admitted and granted an audience with the Emperor himself.

“Your Radiant Highness, Son of Heaven,” they said ceremonially, standing before the emperor, “we have been sent by the King of Inja to request the honor of tasting the celestial drink known as ‘tea.’”

The Emperor of China was silent. He would not deign to speak to the ambassadors of the insignificant kingdom of Inja, but merely gestured to his ministers, who showed the ambassadors into another splendid chamber set with tables, where they were served the celestial drink, tea.

Sitting at the low tables, tasting the tea for themselves, the ambassadors said to one another—“It’s wonderful! Both stimulating and relaxing at the same time! It truly is the celestial drink!”

Pleased with themselves and their success, the ambassadors of Inja began the long journey back home. Only now, they decided to take their time and see a little of China, stopping various places to see the sights and staying in different roadhouses to sample the local cuisine. But in so doing, they soon discovered something profoundly disturbing to them . . . Everyone was drinking tea, both peasants and royalty alike!

On returning to Inja and the court of the king, the latter asked them, “Were you successful in your mission?”

“Yes,” said the ambassadors, tentatively, “but . . .”

“But what?” said the king.

“Well, we did make it to the palace of the Emperor of China, and we were served something wonderful that was called, ‘tea’ . . . but we suspect that they may have played a joke on us, or decided not to serve us the real tea. For we later discovered that this same drink was offered all over China, and served to both peasants and royalty alike!”

In another country along the Silk Road known as Anja—‘there’—was a great philosopher, indeed, the greatest philosopher of the region, whose primary interest was tea. He thought constantly of tea, speculating about it and collecting information from travelers in his notebooks. Some said it was a leaf, some said a liquid. Some said it was a drink, greenish in color, some said golden. Some said it was sweet, while others said bitter. In time, this philosopher complied the world’s greatest collection of information about tea, and had written the authoritative treatise on the subject, becoming the most renowned authority in the whole region . . . but he had never tasted it!

Elsewhere, in a land called Mazhab—‘sectarianism’—they had actually managed to procure a single bag of tea! And one day a year, they would attach this little sachet containing dried tea leaves by four strings to two great staves, which four large and grim-faced men rested on their shoulders, carrying it with ritual solemnity through the streets of the capital. On that day, all the city’s inhabitants would leave work and come out of their homes to witness the holy procession. And when the sacred bag of tea passed before them, all would bow down and prostrate in fear and trembling.

And this is the way it was for a long time, until one year, on the day of the holy procession, a visitor to the capital remained standing while all the city’s inhabitants prostrated themselves before the sacred bag of tea. Laughing out loud, he said, “No-o-o-o, you idiots! You have to pour boiling water on it!”

An audible gasp went through the crowd. The grim-faced priests carrying the tea bag turned to look at the man in both horror and anger. Then, with a look and an angry gesture, they ordered the religious police to arrest the heretic, this enemy of religion who had suggested the destruction of the holy tea! The police immediately seized the man and executed him in the most horrible ways, hanging and dismembering him.

Fortunately for us, before this sad incident, the man had confided the secret of tea to a few friends in the city, and had bequeathed to them the tea he had brought with him on his journey. But having seen what happened to their friend, they now knew not to make the same mistake of talking about infusing the tea with boiling water, or of drinking it openly. Instead, they gathered in secret to do so, and if anyone happened to ask them what it was they were drinking, they would answer simply, “Just a little medicine.”

In this way, they grew in wisdom, until one day, the wisest among them said this . . . “The one who tastes, knows; the one who tastes not, knows not. Stop talking about the ‘celestial drink,’ but serve it at your banquets. Those who like it will ask for more; those who do not are not fitted to be tea-drinkers. Close the shop of argument and open the tea-house of experience.”

Thus, this circle of secret tea-drinkers became the first merchants of tea. Being already merchants of fabrics and jewels, traveling tradesmen of all sorts, they took their tea with them wherever they traveled along the Silk Road. And wherever they might stop, they would take out a little tea and brew it, offering to share it with whoever might be near. This was the beginning of the chaikhanas, the tea-houses that then popped-up all over Central Asia, spreading the true use and reputation of tea far and wide.[2]


Traditional Definitions of Sufism

For over a thousand years, Sufis have routinely learned and recited various definitions of Sufism as a kind of spiritual practice, as a way of continually ‘course-correcting’ and guiding themselves back to the ideals of Sufism. Thus, they have often asked themselves the question, ‘What is Sufism?’ This ancient story or parable of tea is one answer.

Thus, we might look more closely at it and consider what it is trying to say.

First, we have the curious king of ‘here’—Inja—who wants to know if there really is such a thing as ‘tea,’ which might stand for Sufism or mystical experience. But, being a rather ordinary or unremarkable sort of king, he doesn’t go out in search of it himself, but sends ambassadors or emissaries in his stead. The emissaries actually taste the tea for themselves, but are convinced that it can’t be the ‘real thing,’ because people of all classes and stations drink it. In other words, they are elitists who cannot accept that mystical experience is something available to everyone.

Then we have the great philosopher of ‘there’—Anja—who is the world’s greatest authority on ‘tea,’ though he has never tasted it. Thus, his is only head-knowledge, as opposed to the more substantive experiential knowledge. He is like the academic scholars of Sufism who can describe all of its characteristics based on the reports and writings of others, but who have never tasted the heart-broken love and obliterating passion it offers.

Elsewhere, in the land of ‘sectarianism’—Mazhab—they actually worship the ‘tea,’ but in a dry form. This is religion without spiritualty, without the infusion of spirit, the one thing necessary to bring it to life, allowing people to benefit from it. The priests of religion celebrate and defend the ‘dry form’ of religion, often forgetting that the purpose of religion is not merely to preserve the religion itself, but to aid one in transformation. In so doing, they become worshippers of religion instead of God. Thus, Sufis have been known to say . . .

“A Sufi’s religion is God.”[3]

Obviously, this is a Sufi critique of religion, a way of suggesting to the orthodox—‘You have become worshippers of Islam,’ or ‘Christianity’ or ‘Judaism,’ as the case may be, ‘and have forgotten God in your observance of religion. Whereas, God is our religion!’ That is to say, the direct experience of God is a Sufi’s religion. Indeed, it was in the context of such a critique—in rebellion against conventional religion—that historical Sufism was born.

Sufis often say that ‘Sufism has always existed,’ being the deep impulse of the heart that seeks wholeness in divinity or the sacred found in every religious tradition. Thus, Muzaffer Ozak, the famous 20th-century Jerrahi sheikh, says—“A river passes through many countries and each claims it for its own. But there is only one river.”[4] In every land, that river is called by a different name in a different language, but there is only one river, flowing back into one source.

Nevertheless, there is also a clear historical phenomenon with specific characteristics which we call ‘Sufism’ that has a definite context and origin in the Middle East. Personally, I like to explain this context through a parallel exploration of the possible etymological origins of the word, ‘Sufi.’

Image from the Peck Shahnamah. 16th century, Shiraz. Princeton University Library.

Image from the Peck Shahnamah. 16th century, Shiraz. Princeton University Library.

Among the most commonly suggested origins is the Arabic word, ṣuffah, ‘bench,’ which is itself a reference to the ahl aṣ-ṣuffah, ‘people of the bench,’ or ashab as-suffah, ‘companions of the bench.’ Now these people were, in the time of the prophet Muhammad, alayhi as-salām, a supposedly impoverished group of companions of the Prophet who never seemed to leave the bench outside the masjid, or mosque, in Medina. They were probably looked upon by many in Medina as lazy and indolent; but it is said that they were actually so God-intoxicated that all they wanted to do was remain in prayer close to the mosque. They could never do enough practice, never talk enough about God, so they never left the precincts of the mosque! Thus, these “people of the bench,” according to some, are considered the first Sufis.

However, another legend says that Sufis, at first, were actually a nameless, wandering band of mystics, who roamed the world in search of the qutub, the ‘axis’ or ‘pole’ of spirituality in any given age. Thus, in the time of the prophet Muhammad, they were magnetically drawn to Medina, the city of the Prophet, where they recognized him as the qutub and embraced Islam. Thus, the originally nameless form of Sufism took on an Arabic character and name, and became associated with Islam, though it never lost its essentially universalist spiritual outlook. Some even say that this group of wandering seekers, arriving in Medina without any other material aim or intention, became the ‘people of the bench.’

Later, this recognition of the nameless origins of Sufism led one great Sufi master to admonish his fellow Sufis with this famous statement . . .

“Once, Sufism was a reality without a name;

now it is but a name without a reality.”[5]

Another explanation of the origin of the word ‘Sufi’ is the Arabic safā, ‘pure,’ from which we get, tasawwuff. In English, we speak of the tradition of Sufism, but that’s merely an Anglicized form of the Arabic word, tasawwuf, meaning ‘purification,’ a process or path of continual purification, purifying oneself from the more spiritually deadening effects of the ego.

Nevertheless, historically and linguistically, scholars tend to agree that the most likely origin of the word, ‘Sufi,’ is the Arabic word sūf, ‘wool,’ a reference to the simple woolen cloaks worn by early Muslim ascetics in the 8th and 9th-century in the Middle East.

These pious Muslims were generally called nussāk (sing. nāsik) or ‘ascetics, and wore rough woolen garments, rejecting the decadent luxuries of the increasing wealthy Islamic empire which, as they saw it, had lost its way. Their lifestyle was a protest and rebellion against the lax morality of the time. In just two hundred years, the originally poor and pious Muslim community of high ideals had become rich, bloated with wealth acquired through conquest, and extremely decadent. Thus, these early ascetic Muslims were trying to reestablish the ideals of Islam based on the best models available to them. In this case, on the example of the Christian Desert Fathers and Mothers (Abbas and Ammas) who lived in desert caves across the Middle East, and who were often known for wearing coarse woolen garments, an ascetic practice in that hot, dry climate.

Indeed, stories of this cross-fertilization are preserved in the Sufi tradition, especially in an episode from the life of the great Sufi master, Ibrahim ibn Adham, a king who gave up his kingdom to pursue God, who tells of a deep transmission of inner wisdom (ma'rifa) he received from a Christian ascetic.

According to the story, Ibrahim Adham once visited a Christian ascetic called Father Simeon in his desert cave in the mountains. He asked him, “How long have you been here, father?”

“Seventy years,” Father Simeon answered.

“What food do you eat?” asked Ibrahim Adham.

“Why do you ask, my son?”

“I just want to know.”

Father Simeon answered, “One chick pea a day.”

Amazed, Ibrahim Adham said, “What moves your heart so much that you can live off so little?”

“Well, I’ll tell you. Once a year,” Father Simeon answered, “the people of the village below come up to celebrate my work here, adorning my cave and honoring me. And when I’m weary of this life, I think of that, and I can go on.

“Now, I ask you, what work of an hour would you endure for the whole glory of eternity?”

“Hearing this,” Ibrahim Adham tells us, “ma'rifa,” the inner wisdom or experiential knowledge, “descended on me.”

For me, this is an amazing story, connecting the three great esoteric Abrahamic lineages. Just as the Desert Fathers and Mothers of Christianity were already the heirs of the Essenes, a Jewish mystical ascetic sect along the Dead Sea[6] and the probable authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls, so too were the Sufis the heirs of the Desert Fathers and Mothers.

These early Muslim ascetics, nussāk, were even known to say that they followed the way of the Prophet Isa, or Jesus, who wore wool instead of the more comfortable cotton. In saying this, they were not proclaiming themselves converts to Christianity—they were still good Muslims—but recognizing that Jesus was a prophet in Islam whose model was closely aligned with their values. After all, they were rebelling against a corrupt Islamic government, and with the fact that Islam had become mixed-up with politics. The Prophet Muhammad, of course, was considered the best possible ruler, a true philosopher or prophet-king, but things had quickly degenerated after his passing. Aware of the problems of this model, these early proto-Sufis saw Jesus as a prophet who wasn’t involved in politics or governance, leading an exemplary spiritual life. Thus, it likewise became a longstanding value among many Sufis not to become too deeply involved with powerbrokers or politics, nor to court or seek the influence of the powerful elite, whether those with great wealth or great political power.

Within the larger ascetic protest movement of the 8th-century—roughly 200 years after the birth of Islam—was a fringe group called the Sūfiyya, ‘the wool wearers,’ which was likely a pejorative term originally used by their detractors to make fun of them.[7] Nevertheless, the name stuck, and was eventually claimed by this group of spiritual idealists. Indeed, one early master, accepting the more realistic derivation from sūf, ‘wool,’ and combing it with the ideal of safā, ‘purity,’ famously said . . .

“The Sufi is the one who wears wool on top of purity.”[8]

Likewise following the model of Jesus, these early Sufis emphasized Jesus’ teachings on love, though, they did not need Christianity to show them the path to love of God. It was also there before them in the Qur’an (5:54) . . .

“God loves them, and they love God.”

Thus, some Sufis even came to say . . .

“Sufism is the religion of Love.”[9]

It was not long before the early ascetic tradition of Sufism was transformed into a tradition oriented to the ideal and experience of divine love. This is perhaps owing to the influence of one individual more than any other, a woman and a former slave named Rābi‘a al-Adawiyya or Rābi‘a al-Basri (ca. 717-801).

Orphaned at an early age, Rābi‘a was sold into slavery, but her owner, seeing that she spoke with God, became afraid and freed her. After that, she began to wander, never leaving her devotions. She is said to have been a beautiful woman, but never married, devoting herself entirely to God. She is known to have said . . .

“I love You with two loves,

one that that is unworthy of You,

and one that is lost in You.”

And on another occasion . . .

“If I worship You for fear of hell, then send me there.

If I worship you out of a desire for heaven, then bar the gates.

But if I worship You for Your own sake,

then do not deny me the vision of Your eternal beauty.”

The most enduring image of Rābi‘a al-Adawiyya for me is the description of her walking through the streets of Basra carrying a fiery torch in one hand and a bucket of water in the other. Some Sufis who saw her asked, “Lady Rābi‘a, what are you going to do with these?”

She answered, “I’m going to set fire to paradise (Janna) and douse the flames of hell (Jahannam), so that both will cease to inspire desire and fear, that these veils may fall from their eyes, and the lover’s purpose may become clear.”

Through her influence on many others, Sufism came to be oriented toward pure love and ecstatic experiences of union with the divine. Soon, practices developed around the remembrance of the divine Beloved, such as dhikr Allāh, the mantric remembrance or recitation of the name of God. Sufism also developed practices of courting ecstasy with music and dance and the recitation of love poetry. Such sessions which put one in a state of ecstasy (wajd) were called samā‘ or ‘hearing.’ In these ecstatic states, it was said that the self (nafs) was annihilated (fanā) in the experience of union with God.

Among the most famous of the early ecstatic Sufi masters was Mansūr al-Hallāj (ca. 858-March 26th, 922), who is known for crying-out publically in a moment of ecstasy, An al-Haqq, “I am the Truth”[10] . . . and then being executed as a heretic for it.[11] Of course, to the literal-minded, he seemed to be saying that he was God, that his individual ego had subsumed God, when actually he was saying quite the opposite, that his individual ego had been obliterated by God!

Does his story sound familiar?

Clearly, al-Hallaj is the man from our story, the one visiting the land of sectarianism who laughs and cries out, “No, you idiots! You have to pour boiling water on it!”

Thus, the tea of the parable represents Sufism as a path emphasizing experience, specifically, the experience of ‘tasting God,’ or the sacred.

Image from the Peck Shahnamah. 16th century, Shiraz. Princeton University Library.

Image from the Peck Shahnamah. 16th century, Shiraz. Princeton University Library.

But the Parable of Tea is also a cautionary tale, describing a shift in the history of Sufism. Having seen what happened to al-Hallāj, and the general backlash against Sufism, many Sufis decided to go underground, practicing dhikr (‘remembrance’) or ‘drinking their tea’ in secret.[12] Thus, the admonition . . .

The one who tastes, knows; the one who tastes not, knows not. Stop talking about the ‘celestial drink,’ but serve it at your banquets. Those who like it will ask for more; those who do not are not fitted to be tea-drinkers. Close the shop of argument and open the tea-house of experience.

This reminds me of Murshid Samuel Lewis’ wonderful paraphrase of Muhammad Ghazzali’s (d.1111) suggestion . . .

“Sufism is a school of experience, not of dogmas.”[13]

Sufism is not interested in trying to convince others to believe through argument, and does not have a specific set of beliefs to prescribe. It has specific teachings, of course, and a definite perspective oriented to divine love, but no dogmas about what you must believe. The idea of Sufism is to seek experience, your own experience. Beliefs should not be merely ‘imported,’ but formed from personal experience. In Sufism, you discover your own God or “God-ideal,” as Hazrat Inayat Khan puts it.[14] The tradition is merely suggesting, ‘Take these things in and try them out for yourself; discover your own relationship to the sacred.’ The Sufi way is to share, not to impose, as the story illustrates . . .

Thus, this circle of secret tea-drinkers became the first merchants of tea. Being already merchants of fabrics and jewels, traveling tradesmen of all sorts, they took their tea with them wherever they traveled along the Silk Road. And wherever they might stop, they would take out a little tea and brew it, offering to share it with whoever might be near. This was the beginning of the chaikhanas, the tea-houses that then popped-up all over Central Asia, spreading the true use and reputation of tea far and wide.

The chaikhanas or tea-houses, of course, refer to the many Sufi turuq or ‘orders’ (and their khaneghas) that soon arose, including the four great orders, the Chishti, Naqshbandi, Suhrawardi, and Qadiri.


The Evolution of Universalist Sufism

The Chishti lineage, which originally formed in Central Asia, eventually made its way into India with the great Sufi master, Khwaja Mu‘in ad-Din Chishti (1141-1236), where it developed into a unique lineage incorporating Yogic practices and a specific musical lineage called, Qawwali.

In 1910, a master in this lineage, Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882-1927), a great classical Indian musician, in whom was also united the four great Sufi lineages, was charged by his master to bring Sufism into the West. In his master’s words . . .

Fare forth into the world, my child, and harmonize the East and the West with the harmony of your music. Spread the wisdom of Sufism abroad, for to this end art thou gifted by Allah, the most merciful and compassionate.[15]

Coming to the West, ostensibly as a musician, Inayat Khan gave concerts which were sometimes followed by lectures on Sufism. In San Francisco, in 1911, he met his first Western student, a Jewish woman named Ada Martin (1871-1947), who became the first American Sufi murid (‘seeker’), and also the first American murshida, or acknowledged spiritual teacher of Sufism.

But in taking a Western murid, it soon became clear to Inayat Khan that it was not necessarily his mission to spread Islam along with Sufism in the West. The people he was teaching were already Jews and Christians, whose religion was to be protected. Thus, he began to introduce them to Sufism without Islam, as an esoteric path and set of teachings that might catalyze or ‘turn on’ what was dormant in their existing religious practice. In other words, he would teach them to “pour boiling water on it,” to infuse it with Sufi spirituality.

Thus was born Universalist Sufism, and also the Inayati lineage (as a new emphasis in the lineage is often marked by the addition of a name to it, often the name of the innovator). And in time, Inayat Khan would propose yet another definition of Sufism, saying . . .

“If anybody asks you, ‘What is Sufism?’ . . . you may answer:

‘Sufism is the religion of the heart,

the religion in which the most important thing

is to seek God in the heart of humanity.’”[16]

Now, some have asked, ‘Is this still Sufism?’ To this, I believe we can answer a clear, ‘Yes.’ Inayati or Universalist Sufism maintains the traditional Sufi orientation to love and the heart, the commitment to personal spiritual experience through practice—through dhikr (remembrance) and muraqaba (meditation)—and continues the great, 1,400 year-old unbroken lineage, passed from Sufi master to Sufi master. Moreover, Inayati Sufism is still completely in-line with and following the almost 800 year-old mandate of Khwaja Mu‘in ad-Din Chishti to all Chishti Sufis . . .

Love all, and hate none.

Mere talk of peace will get you nothing.

Mere talk of God and religion will not take you far.

Bring out all of the latent powers of your being,

And reveal the full magnificence

Of your immortal self.[17]

Be charged with peace and joy,

And scatter them wherever you are,

And wherever you go.

Be a blazing fire of truth,

A beautiful blossom of love,

And a soothing balm of peace.

With your spiritual light,

Dispel the darkness of ignorance;

Dissolve the clouds of discord and war,

And spread goodwill, peace, and harmony among the people.

Never seek any help, charity, or favors

From anybody except God.

Never go to the courts of kings,

Nor refuse to bless and help the needy and the poor,

The widow or the orphan, if they come to your door.

This is your mission, to serve the people. . . .

Carry it out dutifully and courageously,

So that I, as your Pir-o-Murshid,

May not be ashamed of

Any shortcomings on your part

Before the Almighty God

And our holy predecessors

In the Sufi silsila

On the Day of Judgment.[18]




[1] An edited version of a talk originally given in Portland, Oregon on July 7th, 2016 at Lewis & Clark College for the Season of the Rose, the annual summer school of the Inayati Order.

[2] A parable attributed to Khwaja Yusuf Hamadani by Idries Shah. A less elaborate version of the story is given in Shah’s Tales of the Dervishes (London: Jonathan Cape, 1967: 88-90). After originally reading this story in Shah, I went on to tell it for many years, often as way of introducing Sufism. After some years, I needed to consult the original to confirm a detail, only to discover that I had greatly embroidered the story. However, I was pleased to note that I had preserved all of the essentials, as well as the most important details and phrases.

[3] A traditional Sufi saying.

[4] Muzaffer Ozak. Love is the Wine: Talks of a Sufi Master in America. Ed. Ragip Frager. Putney, VT: Threshold Books, 1987: 1.

[5] Abu’l-Hasan Bushanji, 8th/9th-century.

[6] Greek, Essaioi, a corruption of the Aramaic, Hasya, or Hebrew, Hasidim.

[7] Eventually, by the 9th-century, the name “Sufi” came to apply to all the nussāk. In Khurasan and Transoxania (Central Asia), they were also called hakim (pl. hukamā’) also ‘ārif (pl. ‘ārifūn), fakir, and darwiish.

[8] Al-Rudhabari, 9th-century.

[9] A traditional Sufi saying.

[10] Such ecstatic outbursts are called, shathiyat (sing. shath).

[11] This is the classic story of Mansūr al-Hallāj’s martyrdom. The historical truth is more complex. It seems that he inspired a movement of moral and political reform in Baghdad, which made him powerful enemies. He was then forced to flee Baghdad. He was later arrested and imprisoned for nine years and finally condemned as being part of an insurgent group who wished to destroy the Ka’ba. He had said, “Circle the ka’ba of the heart seven times,” and some also reported that he said cities should build local ka’bas for people to circumambulate. For these things, he was denounced. But as-Shafi’i, the greatest Muslim jurist of the time, refused to condemn him, saying that mystic inspiration was beyond his jurisdiction. Nevertheless, he was condemned by the government. The queen-mother interceded and the order was revoked, but the vizier continued conniving until al-Hallāj was finally condemned, tortured, hanged, decapitated in Baghdad. His last words were said to be, “The only thing that matters is to be absorbed in Unity.”

[12] This story or parable is attributed to the Khwajagan, who are said to have been critical of al-Hallāj, considering his public shath an example of spiritual imprudence. They were advocates of quiet work out of the public eye.

[13] Actually, this is my own paraphrase of Murshid Samuel Lewis’ paraphrase of al-Ghazzali, “Sufism consists of experiences not premises.” (Sufi Vision and Initiation, 19, from The Lotus and the Universe). It seems to be based on a whole passage in al-Munqidh min ad-Dalal of Muhammad al-Ghazzali. One sentence (in Watt's translation) reads: “It became clear to me, however, that what is most distinctive of mysticism is something which cannot be apprehended by study, but only by immediate experience (dhawq—literally, 'tasting'), by ecstasy and by a moral change." (The Faith and Practice of Al-Ghazali, 54-55).

[14] The Unity of Religious Ideals, Part II, “The God-Ideal.”

[15] The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan: Volume 12: The Vision of God and Man. Geneva: International Headquarters of the Sufi Movement, 1982: 150.

[16] Religious Gathekas, #1.

[17] This reminds me of the Bektashi saying reported by Murat Yagan in I Come from Behind Calf Mountain (Putney, VT: Threshhold Books, 1984: 155): Sufism is the “process of awakening and developing latent human powers under Divine Grace and guidance.”

[18] Adapted from the version given in Hakim Moinuddin Chishti’s The Book of Sufi Healing. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 1991: 9.