Some Simple Definitions:
Islam = Surrender: The word "Islam", in Arabic grammar, is a conjugation of the root 'SALAMA', the word for Peace, Trust, Surrender. It is a Divine Command - to "Be Peaceful", "Surrender!", as in " Just do it! Realize your Surrender!" Put 'the" in front of it and we have Al-Islam, or The (state of) Surrender that we all love to refer to.
We actualize the Reality of our Surrender by realizing that we are consciously and enthusiastically surrendered and joining with the others who realize it too! Real Surrender is to the truth of who we really are and to the absolute Divinity of our creation. It is the first act of knowledge, worship and gratitude and the true doorway to increasing our direct awareness of Surrender and the advent of Divine Will. This does not mean only Surrender in the mind, which is the seat of pride and individuality, differences and separation, but Surrender to and in the heart, which is the seat of Unity and vision, love and compassion, and wherein is to be found the Throne of God.
There is a direct relationship between Awareness (A true Knowledge of the Divine) and Surrender. The more we surrender, the more our awareness (read 'Intelligence') increases, and the more we learn form that, the more we are in love with Surrender. Such is the relationship between the lover and the beloved. It is only from the standpoint of this total Surrender to Divine Will that the inspirational, necessary and brilliant nature of the faith and practices of the Islamic revelation will appear clearly.
Muslim = Surrendered - to the Reality of, and the life in, the Divinity of Oneness, or Unity. Dutifully obedient to or seeking out and following the pathway of true service (`ubudiyyat) to God.
Sufism is the English word for the Arabic "Tasawwuf", or "self-purification" (the Work of uncovering the truth and reality of our inner beings). It sums up in a word the principles and practices of the spiritually realized in Islam, and their students, known as mureeds, or "desiring". The early Sufis were the master teachers of the Islamic revelation. They derived their realization and teaching styles through deep study and practice, and by following, to its uppermost goals and ideals, the principles and practices of true belief as taught to them directly by the Prophet Muhammad, sent as a Mercy and a Light unto all the worlds.
= Divine Hospitality - Allowing yourself to be the
'Guest' of God.
The Name is the Means to the Reality
The Name: "Al-llah!" is the Arabic word
for The Same One God in Whom we all believe.
(Arabic is often referred to as the "Language of Al-llah!",
and Qur`an, in Arabic, as the "Speech of God"). "Al-llah!"
is the Name by which the Divine Creator refers to
Himself in the Revealed Qur`an. It is called the
"Divine Name", and has a Singular Power reflective of
God's Uniqueness and Transcendence over all creation.
It is, without doubt, a Divinely revealed Name,
indicative of nothing other than the One Supreme -
Conscious, Living, Creating,- over Whom there is none,
greater than Whom there is none, other than Whom
there is none, and to Whom we are ALL Surrendered,
believer and unbeliever alike. (Please read "Four
This indicated Oneness is the very Reality of which Abraham, Isaac, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad all spoke - the "God" in Whom all believers believe. This Name indicates the One Who is the Author and Creator of the Divine and inescapable Reality of the Unity of us all, unto Whose Benevolent Will Surrender is truly due. Sustainer and Cherisher of creation, Wise, Compassionate, and Merciful. Beyond comprehension and known only by His manifest signs. Begetter of none and never begotten. The Lover and the Beloved, of Whom the Sufi poets sing. The heavens and the earth are but similitudes of His Divine Power and Love.
"Al-llah!" - the Means: In the Sufi way, there are three stages on the way to perfect comprehension, the genuine knowing (gnosis), or an absolute certitude. The first stage is "hearing" - learning about it by voice or letter. The second stage is "seeing" - witnessing it clearly in yourself and others as an object of desire and acquisition, and the third is "knowing" - a genuine realization of Reality through direct experience. In practice, it is said that the Name and the Essence are One. So in short, first we hear "Al-llah!", then we say "Al-llah!", and then we come to know that "Al-llah!" is all there is, in Essence and in ourselves, and finally, we come to know that we are living in Al-llah's Divine Reality. So "Al-llah!" (His Name and His Essence being One), is the Means. Hence we say, "We know Al-llah! by Al-llah!"
"Al-llah!" - the Reality: The goal of Surrender is to know and live in the true reality of God– that we may know and perceive the true Divinity of life within every cell and action. To live in our reality as created - guided, knowing and surrendered to Divine Will - and to carry none of the illusions of separation and independent selfhood any more at all. Surrender to God is true Spiritual Liberation. It is to be free of the compulsions of our comparative, competitive egoic delusion, and surrendered completely to the reality of our true existence in Al-llah!. It is to walk through the veils, to be oblivious to our selves and aware only of our life in God.
"Dhikr!" - the Practice: The word "dhikr" cannot be simply translated into English as remembrance, because, like so many of the powerful concepts presented to us by true spiritual realization, the word is but a key to the world of reality behind it. It is the noun of the verb remember. I like to refer to it as "reminding ourselves by knocking gently at the door of the heart".
The great Sufi Master of Morocco, Muhammad ibn al-Habib said in one verse of his famous and beautiful Diwan (Poetry of Love), "Fa dhikru'llahi, huwa shifa`u". For the Dhikr of Al-llah! (meaning in this instance the constant and sincere remembrance of the Name, the Essence, and the Reality of God, in speech, thought and heart) is the Medicine (meaning the all-important aspect and all-essential ingredient for the true spiritual awareness which is the root of all healing).
In essence, this means that constant and consistent remembrance, praise and worship of Al-llah!, by tongue, mind and heart, in word, thought and action, is the key to Opening the Heart to the Peace and Knowing that Allows the body to Heal in Surrender. The operative word here is Surrender. It is the direct focus on the psycho-physiology (the spiritually healing qualities) of this Surrender to Divine Love that has captured the hearts and interest of spiritual healers and Sufis.
The Sufi Path of Surrender (Islam): To assist us and support us in this surrendered life, increasing our awareness and keeping us out of harm's way, we have a Divine revelation, from God, to God, which we are encouraged to investigate and follow. This prescribed path consists of a life of piety and holiness, dedicated to prayer, fasting, alms-giving, travel in the Holy way, and learning and teaching. It begins and ends with a bearing of witness to the existence of God and a following of the messages of all His Prophets. Its acceptance includes a palpable forgiveness which triggers a physical release from the clutches of guilt and shame and is the beginning of all healing. The way consists of a series of regular practices effective for purifying the heart from the influences of residual memories of past regrettable actions. In other words, they clean your karma. These practices are done entirely in surrender and lead, via the struggle to know and dwell in the perfection of God, through the Garden of the Heart to the Ultimate Abode of joyous servitude. This is the singular point and Divine purpose of this religion called "Islam", or "Surrender", and no other.
Sufis and the truly devout Muslims worldwide invite you to join them and enrich the garden of your heart by saying the Holy Name and knowing the Essence and Truth of God - and thereby know more of your own Essence and Truth. I wish to remind you that Divine Peace is found most strongly in the hearts of those who serve it.
"Who trusts in Al-llah! hath taken indeed a mighty handhold." (Qur`an)
In Peace and Love,