As it was explained in the lecture, Sufism cannot be defined as a particular sect or denomination within Islam, besides Sunni and Shi’a tariqas, but rather as a mystical stream of the religion. Though Sufis do obey the rules of the orthodox Islam (sharia), they seek for the experience beyond usual. Being not satisfied with knowledge about God as any objective factual data, they want to experience God within themselves and everything in the world, which was emphasized in the lecture. Thus, they attempt to reach the ecstatic state in which they can enter the transcendent dimension of the reality, and bridge the gap between the human and God, as it is argued it the video.
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The critical aspect of Sufi philosophy is the idea of the equality of the world and God. In the lecture, Qur’an was cited in this regard: “Wherever you turn, there is the face of God” (2:15). It means that the Sufi, totally immersed in love with the Divine, perceives everything as a reflection of God; he accepts any circumstances as a sign of God’s response to his passion. However, for reaching that level of connection, the devotee needs to commit disciplining or even annihilation of oneself, which was discussed in the lecture. Only after leaving his nafs (egocentric part), one can merge with God.
A response to the student’s discussion
In your discussion, you rightly point out that Sufis follow Islamic Law like “a very pious Muslims,” but they go beyond the simple obedience. In light of this, their ideas and practices may seem opposed to Islam.
You give good examples of it, mentioning the exceptional role of saints in Sufism, which are treated as equal or near to God, a view that would be considered heresy in orthodox Islam. Another example in your discussion is related to acceptance of art, especially music, in Sufi practices, while in orthodox Islam, it is treated as a worldly pleasure, the obstacle on the path to the Divine. In contrast to it, it is the power of the sound and the movement, parts of Sufi dhikr (devotional ceremony), which is the tool to reach the ecstatic state beyond the sensual and aside from the world.