Tariqah, the word for mystic path in Sufism means the path in the dessert that the Bedouin takes to travel from oasis to oasis. To find the way in the trackless desert one need to know the area intimately. "Whoever travels without a guide needs two hundred years for a two-day journey" (Rumi, Ch.12, p.145.) Sufi teachers are those who know the area intimately. They are reliable guides to the tariqah that crosses the desert of the Absolute and take their students from oasis to oasis of gnosis and revelation with an astonishing effortlessness. "On all paths of spiritual training, the teacher is of central importance. He or she embodies the teaching as a living representation of the tradition. He or she helps the student to grow beyond the boundaries of self" (Ozelsel, Ch.12, p.128.)
Worship that is based on traditional customs such as praying and meaningless imitations is deprived of truth. It is the heart of the believer that must become open to faith, so that it may see and hear truth until it can believe the reality of the Divine (Rumi, Ch.13, p.152.) Sufis' practice of Islam is significantly deeper rooted in spiritual practice and mental concentration rather performing prescribed procedures in a common manner. When performing an ablution, spiritual cleansing is paramount. When nothing is available to perform the ritual washing prior to praying, one should "cleanse yourself with intention so that you approach the moment as free of the past as possible" (Reshad Feild, Ch.13, p.154.)
The effect of fanaticism to destroy a person's sense of humor is well known. The Sufis make use of this, too, in their insistence that those interested in their Way should study and understand jokes and humorous recitals. Even though jokes seem a frivolous device when applied to studying Sufism, the profoundly eloquent jokes help in learning and understanding the concepts of Sufism (Ch.14, p.164, in the middle.) Even though laughter may not seem as a useful tool, yet it provides spiritual awareness and assists in learning (Ch.14, pp.168-169.)
Sufism is a hidden gem, not a jewelry that can be bought or sold in the marketplace. The Sufis have released themselves from the world of mortality, they have passed the stages of purification, have freed themselves from attachment to the realm of appearance, and have striven for the annihilation of their limited "self" into the eternal Being (Ibrahim Adham, Ch.15, pp.182-183.) The Sufi is free from all attachments to material goods and also free from influences of the desires, he/she is therefore poor, possessing nothing and letting nothing possess him/herself (Ibrahim Adham, Ch.15. p.182.)
Patience as it is practiced in Sufism possesses both an outwardly apparent and inwardly essential aspect. A seeker always thinks before he speaks, awaiting the opportune moment, so as not to say what he/she may well later regret (Ibn 'Arabi, Ch.15, p.184.) Sufis teach that the one who is patient is grateful even in times of difficulties and misfortune through perseverance in God (Sheikh Muzaffer, Ch.15, p.184.), Ch.15, p.184.)
Sufis teach that God with always present with humans, it is humans who are veiled from God. Once a seeker commences the path to knowledge of Reality, he/she approaches closer to God, whereas God is still, already with the seeker (Muhammad, Ch.16, p.199) At the hardest times God is with humanity, however, the duty lies on people to recognize God. "We are always surrounded by the Help of God. The question is to realize it" (Irina Tweedie, Ch.16, p.202.) In Sufism prayer is the most significant element of worshipping. The highest is Divine love, which is the finality of the spiritual journey, and is known only to the truthful (al-Ghazzali, Ch.17, p.204.) When a seeker prays, the mirror of his heart shines pure and clean, and so becomes a mirror of the whole world since God "lifts a veil and opens the gates of the invisible" (Muhammad, Ch.17, p.204.)
The Almighty Lord commanded "Remember me, so that I remember you" (Qu'ran, II, 152.) Remembering does not mean the occasional recollection of God. Rather it means to remember and remind one's self of His existence at all times. "All creations are calling upon God. You cannot hear or see it on the outside, but the essence in everything is continuously remembering and calling upon God"(Sheikh Muzaffer, Ch.18, p.210.) In remembrance of God, one has to put everything aside, so "he sees nothing but God, [and] nothing moves him but the will of God" (Dhu-l-Nun, Ch.18, p.211.) Service is a very important aspect of Sufism. The significance of it is the sincerity and intentions. In the meaning of service still the preponderance of Love is addressed to the issue. A young man leaving his old father in the mountains because his wife demanded so, a young water carrier whose vow was to give all the money he collected on Fridays for the sake of his parent's souls, a brother who was so used to give money to his younger brother that when the youngest needed an advice, the older brother, following the habit offered money instead of his ear to listen to, and his heart to comfort (Ch.19, Sheikh Muzaffer, pp.222-223; p.218, pp.2190220.) All these narratives depict moral self-transformation, which is as essential in Sufism as the worship and a sincere prayer.
Although Islam is a monotheistic religion, Sufism as its mystical school slightly drifts away from the monotheistic mold. In Sufism God is not a remote Creative Force that interferes from time to time into human affairs. Sufis regard God in everything.
Rose and mirror and sun and moon – where are they?
Wherever we looked, there was always Thy face.
(Mir, Ch.20, p.228)
Sufi's monistic interpretation of God also suggests that everything is God, thus assigning every creature in the world a divine shadow. "The eyes that regard God are also they eyes through which He regards the world" (Traditional, Ch.20, p.229.) Contrary to Christian doctrine about Satan as an opposing force to God, balancing on the scale of Good and Evil, Satan in Islam is not a destructive entity within or outside of the Divine Council. Banished for the refuse to prostrate in front of Adam, Satan still loves God, moreover, loves unconditionally. Satan explains it that "so that I would not mix with the sincere ones and worship Him out of passion or fear or hope or craving" (Sana'i, Ch.21, p.237.) To Satan God is still the Friend, even though Satan loves Him without a hope to be loved in return. "From the hand of the Friend it matters not whether it is honey or poison, sweet or sour, grace or wrath" (Hallaj, Ch.21, p.238.)
Those who are free from their ego become united with God at the stage of selflessness. They leave the transient "self" behind and, and will exist through the existence of God (Hallaj, Ch.22, p.246.) The seeker is dissolved into the divine existence and breaks the limitation of the self. The one who truly believes in unity is the one, who has gone through spiritual stages of understanding the truth into the single essence and has broken from the limits of the self (Rumi, Ch.22. p.250.)
Sufis are not afraid of death, for it is not a physical condition as much as transition to the unification with God. "Death is a bridge whereby the lover rejoins the Beloved" (Rabia, Ch.23, p.253.) Death is crushing the bonds of physical existence to become one with a universe beyond the limitations of nature. Death is completing the circle. The goal is reached. Freedom.
When you see my funeral, don't say,"What a separation!"
It is time for me to visit and meet the Beloved.
Since you have seen my descent, then do see my rising.
Why complain about the setting of the moon and the sun?
Which seed that went under the earth failed to grow up again?
(Rumi, Ch.23, p.256)