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Sufism Essay

1333 words - 5 pages

Islam, as a religion, is divided into two different sects, Sunni and Shi'i. These divisions have their own separate values and rituals that create an unconquerable schism between them. The gap, however, is somewhat bridged by a twist on the Islamic faith known as Sufism. The mystic ways of the Sufi society make it very appealing to both Sunnis and Shiites, not to mention the newcomers to the Islamic faith. Sufism uses the quality of unification and the quality of appeal to make it one of the strongest aspects of Islam.Sufism was founded on the belief that Muslims could obtain a "one-on-one" relationship with God through mystical practices. Mysticism is defined as "a particular method of approach to Reality making use of intuitive and emotional spiritual faculties which are generally dormant and latent unless called into play through training under guidance." Since mysticism is connected with many other religions also, the Sufis had to be extremely careful to be under "guidance" at all times. They prefer the word guidance to the word teaching because they believe that the sought-after relationship with God can be reached only through personal experience.The original Sufis, though they seem far from the orthodox views, maintained a very close tie with original Islamic doctrine. Their differences were considerable, but the link with orthodoxy was "guaranteed by their acceptance of the law and ritual practices of Islam." The Sufis believe that a person's soul abides with God before it ever inhabits the body of man. This connection is the reason for all Sufi practice. Their rituals and ceremonies are an attempt to reconnect their soul with God, its original keeper. This pursuit of God also leads Sufis to believe in a pursuit of ecstasy, which can be reached through repeated convocations, breathing exercises, and chants, all of which are accompanied by vocal and/or instrumental music. This ecstasy requires freedom from conscious thought, which Sufis believe can be attained through music.Although Sufism was a response to communal worship, they have developed a form of communal worship to help each other discover God. The Sufis sit in a circle around the choir, which is also in a circle around the Master. They begin to chant slowly and quietly with very little movement. Then, the Master encourages them to the next stage with some sort of ejaculation, be it clapping or shouting. The movement is increased at this time, and the chanting becomes more rapid and louder. The Master proceeds to stand in the midst of this chanting, and he is followed by the circle of devotees around him. The entire group then begins to chant very loudly while they jump, clap, sway, or bounce. At the end of this two-hour session, the Master gives some verbal command, which causes the devotees to stop their chanting while the choir drops to a very low tone, and the ceremony comes to an end. The Sufis believe that this type of worship will bring them to ecstasy, thereby shortening...

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