Sufism has been an essential part of the Islamic tradition from its origin, that is, from the time that the Qur’an was revealed to Muhammad in the seventh century. Let me simply say that the Qur’an itself employs a series of words that designate the primary concerns of the Sufi teachers over the centuries. These words include love, sincerity, mercy, compassion, kindness, remembrance, helpfulness, and acting beautifully. All of these words designate human qualities that are highly praised and encouraged by the Qur’an. and they are qualities that the Sufi teachers have recognized as the fruit of sincere and proper observance of Islamic teachings and practices.
Instead of trying to explain here how the Quran encourages the acquisition of these human qualities, I refer you to the book The Vision of Islam in which I and my co-author have explained in detail how the Qur’an is the fountainhead of all Islamic practices, theological doctrines, and ethical, moral, and spiritual teaching. We also explain how and why it is that among the great Muslim teachers, it is the Sufis who focus on the most interior dimension of the religion, that is, love, sincerity, and spirituality.
by Sachiko Murata
Sachiko Murata is professor of religion and Asian studies at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
The Vision of Islam: Reflecting the Hadith of Gabriel (St. Paul: Paragon House, 1994), co-authored by William C. Chittick and Sachiko Murata.