Re: religious singularity?

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Wed Oct 03 2001 - 06:33:34 MDT

On Wed, Oct 03, 2001 at 12:15:33PM +0100, Amara Graps wrote:

> One of the best ways to describe Sufism is to describe what it's *not*:
> it is not a sect, these people are not bound by religious dogma, and
> they use no regular place of worship. They have no sacred city, no
> monastic organization, no religious instruments, no sacred book. They
> don't like even being given a name ("Sufi"), which is more like a
> nickname to them, and prefer to refer to themselves as "people like
> us" or "we friends". (They recognize one another by certain natural
> gifs, habits, qualities of thought.) Sufism is only known by means of
> itself. The function of Sufism is to be a 'nutrient' for society, and
> to then transmute and disappear, leaving _alterred_ traces only.
> The Sufis are at home in all religions because they believe that
> Sufism is the secret teaching within all religions. To them, Islam is
> a 'shell' of Sufism as equally as other religions are a 'shell' of
> Sufism. However, the Sufi thought has an eastern flavor because Islam
> protected it for a long time. Sufism's origin is not known, but it is
> thought to have existed in B.C. times. The largest impact of Sufism,
> though, was made between the eighth and eighteenth centuries.

I think this is a very westernized form of Sufism, adapted in the same
way as Buddhism has been adapted in the west to fit in. Maybe one could
say that Sufism relates to Islam in the same way Zen relates to
Buddhism. But the Zen one tends to encounter in the west is a highly
westernized form, and gives a very different view from what is practiced
by actual Japanese roshis.

I have the impression that the sufi you met had a view of Sufism that is
quite different from what historians of religion tend to take (which is
quite common when you discuss history with people of a certain religion;
the view from the inside is often very different from the one from the
outside). While there are definitely some quite non-Islamic influences
and has likely been plenty of cross-fertilisation with similar mystic
schools based in other religions, Sufism is definitely linked with

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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