Wisdom of the Sufis'


"As-salaamu alaikum" - "Peace to you from my heart to your heart"

"Sufism is truth without form." Lbn Jalali

"You already have the precious mixture that will make you well. Use it." - Rumi

"Appear as you are,
Be as you appear."
- Mevlana Jalalu'ddin Rumi


Sufis are Muslim mystics who trace their spiritual lineage to the great prophet Mohammad, the founder of Islam. Like all mystics. Sufis are not concerned with secondhand knowledge about God, but with personal experience of God.

For Sufis, the outer forms of religion are merely vehicles for the spiritual content that lies beyond all rites and creeds. The sufi sage Shibli is said to have run the streets carrying flaming coals announcing he was going to set fire to the Ka'aba, the most sacred place, In Islam, so that Muslims would concern themselves less with a place and more with the Lord of the Ka'aba. Such enthusiasm for truth has often caused Sufis to be branded as heretics, and horribly persecuted by orthodox Islamic authorities. Yet their wisdom has survived to inspire generations of spiritual seekers.

Sufism is a voyage of discovery into ourselves and beyond ourselves; a pilgrimage to become perfect servants of Allah; a love affair with the Divine Beloved in which the lovers merge in mystical union. The sufis may seem esoteric and mystifying but actually they are trying to point us to something so obvious that we miss it.

God is everywhere and everything. We are God. There is nothing but the oneness of God. It is only our sense of being a separate ego that obscures the omnipresent Truth.

Sufism is simply about seeing things as they truly are - a mystical realization that is available to all.

When the Sufi saint Rabi'a heard Salih of Qazwin teaching "Knock and the Door will open for you" she admonished him. "What are you talking about Salih, the Door has never been shut."

The great mystic poet Jalaluddin Rumi wrote, " I knocked and the door opened, but I found I'd been knocking from the inside"



The Sufis' approach God through many divine Names that express his various attributes but the Name "Allah" combines and transcends all these attributes, Allah is the Supreme Reality. The word Allah combines the roots "al" and "la" to express "The Onesness of Being and Nothingness."

God embraces all opposites. As it says in the Holy Qu'ran "He is the first and the last, the apparent and the hidden." He is the "Soul of all souls", as Rumi puts it. He is not confined by any one creed but is the one God who speaks through all genuine religion, manifesting himself in different ways appropriate to the individual seeker.


Inspirational Sufi Sayings:


"Allah is non-being and being, existence and non-existence. He is the relative and the Absolute. All these concepts return to Allah, for there is nothing we can comprehend or write or speak about that is not Allah"

Abd Al Kader

Someone who seeks God through logical proof is like someone who looks for the sun with a lamp. Traditional Sufi Saying

"Whatever you think concerning Allah - know that he is different from that!"

Ahmad Lbn Ata'Allah

"Saying "Allah Akbar" - God is most Great" - doesn't mean he is greater than something else, because there is nothing else for him to be greater than. It means that he is too great to be perceived by the senses and too deep to be understood by the intellect. Too great, indeed, to be known by anything other than Him. Only God knows God."

Ahmad Lbn Ata'Allah

"the search has no final finding. Knowledge of God is without end." Abd Al Kader


"God is nearer to man than the jugular vein" Qu'ran 50:16

Sleep with the remembrence of death and rise with the awareness that you will not live long. Uwais El-Qarni

The Ways of God are as many as the breaths of Human beings. Traditional Sufi Saying

"Everything is a signpost to the Oneness of Allah" -

A path has no value once you have arrived. Hujwiri

The path is the service of others, not prayer beads and dervish robes. Sa'dj

Do you want to be a pilgrim on the path to love? The first step is making yourself humble as ashes. Ansari of Herat


Many of those who strive to overcome pride are hoping to puff themselves up with this triumph. Hakim Jami


Love is to stand before your Beloved, striped naked of all attributes, so that His qualities become your qualities. Al-Haiiaj

"You've no idea how hard I've looked for a gift to bring You. nothing seemed right. What's the point of bringing gold to the gold mine, or water to the Ocean. Everything I came up with was like taking spices to the Orient. It's no good giving my heart and my soul because you already have these. So- I've brought you a mirror. Look at yourself and remember me."

Jalaluddin Rumi

O love, O pure deep love, be here, be now
Be all; worlds dissolve into your stainless endless radiance,
Frail living leaves burn with you brighter than cold stars:
Make me your servant, your breath, your core.

"God is your mirror in which you contemplate yourself and you are His mirror in which He contemplates his divine attributes."

Lbn Arabi

"I won't serve God like a laborer expecting wages." Rabi'a


The Sufi is pleased with everything that God does, so that God will be pleased with all that he does. Abu Sa'id Lbn Abi-L-Khayr

All your suffering comes from desiring things that cannot be had. Stop desiring and you won't suffer. Jalaluddin Rumi


The qualities that endear a man to God are river like generosity, sun-like affection, and earth like hospitality. Mu'in'ud-din Chisti

The true mystic is not a devotee lost in ecstatic communion with the One, or a reclusive saint who avoids others. The true mystic lives alongside other people - coming and going, eating and sleeping, buying and selling, marrying and chatting - but not for a moment does he forget God."

Abu Sa'id Lbn Abi-L-Khayr

"Wherever you find yourself, whether in worship or in ordinary life, contemplate God - in what you eat, what you drink, whom you marry, always aware that he is both the Contemplated and the Contemplator. Abd Al-Kader


You yourself are your own obstacle - rise above yourself. Hafiz

There is nothing better than to be without everything - no theories or practices. When you are without all, you will be with all. Bayazid Al-Bistami

"When "I" and "You" are absent, I've no idea if this is a mosque, synagogue, church or temple. Mahmud Sahbistari

When you lose yourself, you find the Beloved." There is no other secret. I don't know any more than this. Ansari of Herat

"In the state of fana, which is also called ittihad, Lord and Worshipper, lover and Beloved, bith disappear. If there is no lover there is no Beloved. If there is no devotee, there is no Lord. The two are an inseparable polarity, so the disappearance of one is the disappearance of the other."

Abd Al Kader

God has stolen my false,"I" and brought me close to the true "I". All colours have returned to pure white. The journey is over and nothing but God exists. All attributes and relationships have been erased. The primal state has been reestablished. Abd Al Kader

Don't say, "I am nothing,"
but don't say,"I am something."
Don't say,"Nothing concerns me,"
but don't say,"Something concerns me,"

Just say "Allah"- and you will witness wonders. Sidi Ali Al-Jamal

Mahmud Shabistari, Rose Garden of Mystery (13th century):

Go sweep out the chamber of your heart.
Make it ready to be the dwelling place of the Beloved.
When you depart, He will enter.
In you, void of yourself, will He display His beauties.

Quotes from Jelauddin Rumi

Jelauddin Rumi, was a thirteenth century Sufi mystic who was born in in Balkh, Afghanistan. Later he and his family fled to Turkey. While there Rumi met the great Sufi shaman, Sams Tabriz, which spurred his religious conversion and caused him much tribulation. Out of this meeting, Rumi also began his entrance into mystical and ecstatic states, from which his now very famous poetry emerged. These poems, stories, and mystical sayings are respected not only because they reveal a great poet of all ages, but because they reveal a man of profound and radical wisdom. Some of Rumi's sayings are below.

Don't you see that the roads to Mecca are all different?...The roads are different, the goal one...When people come there, all quarrels or differences or disputes that happened along the road are resolved...Those who shouted at each other along the road 'you are wrong' or 'you are an infidel' forgot their differences when they come there because there, all hearts are in unison.


Hear from the heart wordless mysteries!
Understand what cannot be understood!
In man's stone-dark heart there burns a fire
That burns all veils to their root and foundation.
When the veils are burned away, the heart will understand completely...
Ancient Love will unfold ever-fresh forms
In the heart of the Spirit, in the core of the heart.


Know, O my son, that each thing in the universe is a vessel full to the brim with wisdom and beauty. It is a drop from the river of His Beauty...It is a hidden treasure because of its fullness. It has exploded and made the earth more brilliant than the skies. It has sprung up and make the earth like a sultan wearing a robe of satin.


Everything you see has its roots in the unseen world.
The forms may change, yet the essence remains the same.
Every wonderful sight will vanish, every sweet word will fade,
But do not be disheartened,
The source they come from is eternal, growing,
Branching out, giving new life and new joy.
Why do you weep?
The source is within you
And this whole world is springing up from it.


O LOVE, O pure deep love,
be here, be now
Be all; worlds dissolved into your
stainless endless radiance,
Frail living leaves burn with you
brighter than cold stars:
Make me your servant, your
breath, your core.


I have put duality away,
I have seen the two worlds are one;
One I seek, One I know,
One I see, One I call.
He is the first, He is the last,
He is the outward, he is the inward.

The Golden Words of A Sufi Sheikh

"Satans poisonous qualities of pride, jealousy, arrogance, jealousy, impatience, haste, vengeance, treachery, falsehood, murder, lust, and anger accumulated and grew within you to become your poison, driving away your good qualities." P131


If you have been born a man
Thinking is necessary.
But it will be most exalted in your life to think about your thoughts and correct them.

288. Do not cultivate Doubt
It will drive your wisdom out, p83


Satisfy the hunger of others
And your hunger will be appeased
All by itself. p82

Quotes from Inayat Khan on Initiation
The Sufi Message does not call a person away from a belief or church; it calls one to live it.

Initiation in the real sense of the word, as it is used on the spiritual path, takes place when a person, in spite of having a religion and belief, an opinion and ideas about spiritual things, feels that he should take a step in a direction which he does not know; when he takes the first step, that is an initiation. Ghazali, a great Sufi writer of Persia, has said that entering the spiritual path is just like shooting an arrow at a point one cannot see, so that one does not know what the arrow is going to hit; one only knows one's own action, and one does not see the point aimed at. This is why the path of initiation is difficult for a worldly man. Human nature is such that a man born into this world, who has become acquainted with the life of names and forms, wants to know everything by name and form; he wants to touch something in order to be sure that it exists. It must make an appeal to his physical senses before he thinks that it exists; without this he does not believe that anything can exist. Therefore it is difficult for him to undergo an initiation on a path which does not touch any of his senses. He does not know where he is going.

Initiation, or in Sufi terms Bayat, first of all has to do with the relationship between the pupil and the Murshid. The Murshid is understood to be the counsellor on the spiritual path. He does not give anything to or teach the pupil, the mureed, for he cannot give what the latter already has; he cannot teach what his soul has always known. What he does in the life of the mureed is to show him how he can clear his path towards the light within by his own self. This is the only purpose of man's life on earth. One may attain the purpose of life without a personal guide, but to try to do so is to be like a ship traversing the ocean without a compass. To take initiation, then, means entrusting oneself in regard to spiritual matters to a spiritual guide.

There are different kinds of initiation that souls experience. One is natural initiation. A kind of natural unfoldment for which the soul cannot give any cause or reason, comes to a soul, although no effort or attempt has been made by that soul to experience it. Sometimes this initiation comes after great illness, pain, or suffering. It comes as an opening up of the horizon, it comes as a flash of light, and in a moment the world seems transformed. It is not that the world has changed; it is that that person has become tuned to a different pitch. He begins to think differently, feel differently, see and act differently; his whole condition begins to change. One might say of him that from that moment he begins to live. It may come as a vision, as a dream, as a phenomenon -- in any of these forms; one cannot determine the manner in which it will manifest.

It is most essential for my mureeds to think what motive, what object they have in their working with the teaching and meditations given in the Sufi Order. Is it that they wish to develop occult powers? Then such powers are not promised. Is it that they wish to learn very much? But there is not much study given here. Is it that they want to be good? No special principles of goodness are taught here. If they want to be spiritual, we have not yet made solitudes and seclusions as they have on the top of the Himalayas and in the caves of the mountains, that we may give up our life in the world and retire there, nor do we wish for it. Then what is the motive which keeps us busy in the Sufi Order, what is our object in taking this path of initiation? Our object in this is to become human, to find the way how to become human, how to live a human being's life to its fullness, how to live a life of love, harmony and beauty.

To my mureeds, therefore, a word of advice that I have to give is to waken to the subtleties of human nature, cultivate and make your perceptions keen so as to get an insight into human nature. It is by this that you will probe the depths of life's secret, and it is in understanding this secret that all the mystery is revealed, a mystery which is mysticism. It is to find this mystery that we take the path of initiation; it is in this revelation that the purpose of our spiritual pursuit is accomplished.

Some people affirm that they have been initiated by a teacher on the other side. Well, perhaps they have; but are they not then in two worlds, the teacher in one and the initiate in the other? The initiate neither belongs to the teacher's world, nor does the teacher belong to his. This surely gives one less trouble than having to regard the pleasure of a living being; it is easier to feel that one has someone at one's back who is always whispering in one's ear and who speaks to one in dream or vision. It is not wrong and in some cases it is even true; there are souls, there are teachers who have perhaps not given on earth what they had to give, what they had to impart to others. But that is not the normal process. If it were a normal process then all the teachings would have been sent from the other side, but neither Buddha nor Jesus Christ nor Mohammed gave their teachings from there.

The path of initiation is also a path of tests: tests from the initiator, tests from God, tests from the self, and tests from the world; and to go through these tests is the sign of real progress in the mureed, while the one who does not undertake these tests will be wasting his time.

The important thing is this, that the one who is life's student, the one who is really initiated, studies himself before studying others. Does an initiator teach the truth? No man has the power to teach another the truth; man must discover it himself.

What is it that the initiator teaches the initiated one? He tells the initiated one the truth of his own being. He does not tell him something new or something different. He tells him something which his soul already knows but which his mind has forgotten.

The path of initiation is not a path of study. I have seen people who have not only read fifty volumes, but have written fifty volumes and published them, and not yet fit for initiation. It is not an act of brain, it is a process of the spiritual melting, going from that hard, metal aspect to the form of liquid; the ice turning into water. Therefore the mureed must guard himself against any disturbing influence that would interfere in this process, knowing that it is his responsibility. The teacher would have guarded him against it if the mureeds were children; the mureeds, who are grown-up, must feel responsible for themselves.

On the path of initiation two things are necessary: contemplation, and the living of a life such as a Sufi ought to live; and they depend upon each other. Contemplation helps one to live the life of a Sufi, and the life of a Sufi helps contemplation. In the West, where life is so busy and where there is no end to one's responsibilities, one wonders if to undertake contemplation, even for only ten minutes in the evening, is not too much when one is tired. But for that very reason contemplation is required more in the West than in the East where everything, even the surroundings, is helpful to contemplation. Besides a beginning must be made on the path.

The Great Ones are initiated by God Himself, and they prove their initiations not by their claims, but in their works.

To discover the heart is the greatest initiation.


Mevlana Jalalu'ddin Rumi:

Enough of these phrases,
Conceit and metaphors,
I want burning, burning, burning.

Recommended Reading

Essential Sufism, Edited by James Fadiman & Robert Frager

Essential Sufism excerpts James Fadiman and Robert Frager profile the important teachers, artists, and philosophers of Sufism; explores the basic traditions and the history of Sufi through traditional poems, texts, prayers, proverbs, essays, and meditations; and explores its relationship to modern Islam. (Taken from Essential Sufism)

Related External Links

Glossaries of Sufi and Islamic Terms:

Related pages:
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