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    The Reluctant Messenger


    Islamic Mosque The Master walked into his library and saw that Chester was reading a book of Poems by Rumi. As the Master sat down Chester looked up from his reading and said, "Im reading the Islamic Mystic Rumi."

    The Master corrected Chester. "Rumi was a Sufi. Sufism is older then Islam. Some Muslim nations are even trying to rid their country of Sufism. Sufis are usually Arabic but their religion traces its roots back to Abraham. The religion most similiar to Sufism would be Sikhism. In fact the Sikh history has several Sufis as their saints."

    "I thought Jews were decended from Abraham?" Chester was getting more confused.

    The Master commented. "Abraham had two sons. His first son was with Hagar, Sarah's concubine. This was because Sarah didn't believe whe would have a child when she was in her eighties and gave her husband permission to have a son with her concubine. But later she had a son like God had promised."

    [See Genesis 21]

    Genesis 21:
    The Birth of Isaac
    1 Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. 2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. 3 Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. 4 When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. 5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. 6 Sarah said, "God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me." 7 And she added, "Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age."

    Hagar and Ishmael Sent Away
    8 The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. 9 But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10 and she said to Abraham, "Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac." 11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. 12 But God said to him, "Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. 13 I will make the son of the maidservant into a nation also, because he is your offspring." 14 Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the desert of Beersheba. 15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went off and sat down nearby, about a bowshot away, for she thought, "I cannot watch the boy die." And as she sat there nearby, she began to sob. 17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, "What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation." 19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. 20 God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. 21 While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt.

    [End Genesis]

    Abraham taught his son Ishmael the ways of connecting to God. Even though he was only 13 years old when he left his father, Ishmael remembered the prayers and meditations Abraham had taught him. Ishmael later became the patriarch of the arabic nations. This knowledge was passed on from master to disciple throughout the centuries. Centuries and centuries later, these mystics who still practiced the teachings of Abraham sought to learn more about the teachings of a prophet named Muhammad.

    Abraham's legacy to his son Ishmael was the school of spiritual knowledge based on self realization as the door toward understanding the path to oneness with God. Before the time of the prophet the discipline was simply called the understanding. The understanding was based on God's Law."

    The history of Sufism records that during the lifetime of the Prophet Mohammed, fifteen centuries ago, there was a group of pious individuals from different arabic nations who were guided by this ancient understanding. These individuals sought for the direct experience of the Divine. As they became companions of the Prophet, they were people of principles practicing certain disciplines and meditations for the sake of purification, the realization of Divine love, and the understanding of reality. They were the Lovers of God who sought union with Him through losing the limited self in His Divinity (fana), and remaining alive in that Reality (bagha).

    These individuals met on the platform, or suffe, of the mosque where Prophet Mohammed used to pray in Medina, Arabia. They would meet there almost everyday to discuss the ways to inner knowledge, the truths of revelation, and debate the meanings of the revelations of the prophet Muhammad. This was long before the Koran was ever written. The Koran was written after the death of the Prophet. The secret teachings of the Sufis was never included in the Koran. The platform of that mosque in Medina became the first gathering place of one of the most influential groups in the history of mankind's spiritual civilization. They were called ahle suffe, the People of the Platform.

    These individuals brought to Islam the spiritual practice based on knowledge of the self, and thus free of the trappings of tradition and superstition, a knowledge of the inner heart apart from the customary beliefs of their contemporary society as well as those of future civilizations.

    It is from this group that all the schools of Sufism that have ever existed owe their origin, for by pursuing the path of unsullied inner knowledge they were the founders of Sufism, and the binding link between its subsequent developments.

    Among the most famous were: Salman Farsi, Ammar Yasser, Balla'al, and Abdullah Masoud; some historians have added Oveyse Gharani to this list as well. Avoiding proselytizing among the multitude, their gatherings were held in private, open only to true seekers of reality. Instead of preaching in public, these pious individuals were searchers for truth, not performers of rhetoric.

    After the Prophet passed away, each of the people of suffe returned to his homeland to instruct students eager to follow upon the path of inner knowledge. History shows that within a century or two their style of self understanding and discipline were introduced by their students to nations as diverse and widely separated as Persia, India, Indonesia, Syria, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and North Africa. Their teachings were based on individual understanding and direct experience, not just on particular texts or rote learning. In this manner their fundamental teachings have been preserved in their style up to the present, instead of withering away into the empty formulas of scholasticism.

    : Through this process of diffusion, different schools and orders of Sufism gradually emerged from the single original group of suffe at Medina. Their practices differ from one another in emphasis and doctrine, but all legitimate Sufi schools trace their ultimate origins back to the ancient teachings of Abraham.

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