'Ibaaraatuhum shattaa wa-husnuka waahid
Wa-kullun ilaa dhaaka al-jamaali yushiir
Their expressions are manifold and Your loveliness is one
And everyone points to that beauty
Zenda ma'shuq ast-o 'aashiq mordah'i
All is the Beloved and the lover is a veil
The Beloved is alive and the lover is dead
Whoever says, 'There is no god, but God,' enters Paradise.
With regard to Sufism, Ruwaym ibn Ahmad said, "Sufism consists of abandoning oneself to God in accordance with what God wills."
On one occasion when he was asked about Sufism, Samnun said, "Sufism is that you should not possess anything nor should anything possess you."
Concerning Sufism, Abu Muhammad al-Jariri said, "Sufism consists of entering every exalted quality (khulq) and leaving behind every despicable quality."
When he was asked about Sufism, 'Amr ibn 'Uthman al-Makki said, "Sufism is that at each moment the servant should be in accord with what is most appropriate (awla) at that moment."
Regarding Sufism, 'Ali ibn 'Abd al-Rahim al-Qannad said, "Sufism consists of extending a 'spiritual station' (nashr maqam) and being in constant union (ittisal bi-dawam)."
All of these definitions of Sufism given by Sufis who lived in the 9th and 10th centuries (CE) are provided by al-Sarraj (d. 378 AH/ 988 CE) in the earliest comprehensive book on Sufism, the Kitab al-Luma' (The Book of Flashes) (ed. by R. Nicholson, pp. 34-35). These definitions of Sufism, however, are mere signposts pointing one
Beyond both this World and the Hereafter
This world and the Hereafter are veils to the lover.
How can desire for them ever be right for the lover?!
Sufism: Name and Origin
by Paul Yachnes
Martin Lings, writing in an article on Sufism in the 14th edition of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica (1968), defined Sufism as "the name by which Islamic mysticism came to be known in the 8th or 9th century A.D." and stated: "It is only in secondary respects that there can be said to have been any development In Sufism, or for that matter in Islam as a whole, since the time of the Prophet". Taking this idea one step further, he writes: "The influences on Sufism from outside have been enormously exaggerated. Probably the chief influence was Neoplatonism, but even this was confined mostly to terminology and to methods of doctrinal exposition".
In something of a departure from previous definitions, Victor Danner, in his introduction to his translation of Ibn `Ata'illah's Book of Wisdom (1978), writes: "When dealing with Sufism, it is best to leave to one side such terms as `mystic' and `mysticism,' if only because in the modern Western world such words nowadays often lead to confusion". He prefers to identify it operatively and institutionally, as he does in his book The Islamic Tradition(1988): "Sufism is the spiritual Path (tariqah) of Islam and has been identified with it for well over a thousand years...It has been called `Islamic mysticism' by Western scholars because of its resemblance to Christian and other forms of mysticism elsewhere. Unlike Christian mysticism, however, Sufism is a continuous historical and even institutionalized phenomenon in the Muslim world that has had millions of adherents down to the present day. Indeed, if we look over the Muslim world, there is hardly a region that does not have Sufi orders still functioning there". Such is his estimation of the importance, within Islam, of Sufism that he says: "Sufism has influenced the spiritual life of the religion to an extraordinary degree; there is no important domain in the civilization of Islam that has remained unaffected by it".
This discussion of the name and origin of Sufism was taken verbatim from Sufism: An Annotated Resource Guide, by Paul Yachnes. (Fixed, December 9, 2000.)