Set against the backdrop of the Unchanging, or 'no change', sufism is the science of change. It is the journey (should you choose to accept it) of the personal truth (subjective) toward the absolute truth (objective). It is the science of the subject's approximation to and eventual annihilation in the object.
It has been said by many of the masters that in the early days sufism (tasawwuf) was a reality without a name, and in the latter days it has become a name without a reality. Tasawwuf means self-purification. It is an event. It is what happens, bi-idhni'llah (by the permissiom of Allah), when one accepts and walks the revealed Way in Surrender (Islam) under the guidance of a mature and spiritually authorized teacher. Therefore, in the early days it was a reality without a name.
In the ensuing attempts to spread Islam by the heart, which was it's original and only intent, only mature masters were sent into foreign countries to assess and blend in with the people at their level of understanding and adapt their presentations of the teachings to acceptable standards. They would become, in all outward aspects, one of the people but the superiority of their moral and ethical virtues would shine forth in an exemplary manner and have a transformative effect upon the populace. Hence the teachings spread. One of the humorists has said that SUFI stands for Suddenly U Find Islam. It is the science of transforming undesirable qualities into desirable qualities.
In this context, only what works, works. Only what works is real. And it must be tested on the touchstone of practicality.
It is stated in tradition that the earth would never be without a unique individual who would be the standard by which success was measured. It is the obligation of all who accept obligation to continue the search for this unique being because he is the center of unity and holds the key to the unity of the people, without which there is no real and practical outward unity. He is the fountain of love, wisdom and mercy for all the worlds. He is the Muhammadan successor and the Rahmatun lil `alameen (mercy for all the worlds).
This time is no different and we are blessed, as tradition states, to see the spread of Islam and sufism and the emergence of an increasing number of qualified teachers. But among the saints, teachers and holy people there is an order and a unique being from whom pours forth the love, mercy and wisdom in a way unique to the time, much needed by the others regardless of their station in life. The schools and work established by this universal guide (murshid) of the sufi reality are always revolutionary and new in a way that truly fits the place and the needs of the people of the time.
Sufism is not an unknown phenomenon in western culture. Sufi tariqas abound. Prayer, dhikr, contemplation and introspection, spiritual and behavioral transformation are the hallmarks of this spread, and may well be the salvation of the American dream. Ask any prison warden about the transformative effects of Islam on the behavior of some inmates.
But major curiosity has always been present concerning the usefulness and means of blending and incorporating western understandings (particularly psychology) into the sufi way. It has always been a part of the sufi way to accept and integrate the contributions of the people to whom it was brought. Common examples are Unani (Greek) medicine, Indian music, Buddhist meditation and Malaysian martial arts, to mention a few.
These incorporations always met with resistance from some among the more traditionally oriented populace. For sufism to be truly accepted and flourish in America, the contribution par excellence and most needed is the spiritually adaptable portion of western psychology which has explored itself to the depths of the human spirit much the same as physics has come to the point of having to accept a Supreme Being. It is now time for our spiritual tradition to arise and embrace the transformative works of the people who have strived to the best of their ability to understand and relieve the sufferings of their people; to meet and offer itself as the natural continuation to their work.
Although it can, sufism is not meant to 'stand alone' as a panacea to the world's problems. It is not meant to be introduced as a cultural alternative, as in simply adopt a new cultural, in this case Islamic, paradigm, and allow the rest to sort itself out. It is meant to be dynamically unifying, embracing and meeting the needs of the people at their level of understanding. Sufism as an 'alternative' movement creates separation and becomes a practice without a heart , or with a 'heart' of it's own. In order to be a living, dynamically transformative force it must be able to enter almost unnoticed into mainstream life; accepting and transforming, for example, the music, the corporate business practices, and the next generation of healing arts.
There is no doubt that the plethora of sufi masters today are holders of very high spiritual stations and are sufficient for the seekers of spiritual realities and for the salvation of their adherents. They offer the vehicle of Islam as a way 'out' of the dangers of contemporary life. But the heart of sufism is the reality and practice of spiritual transformation; discovering, understanding and implementing the practical means by which tangible results are achieved.
The End is in the Beginning, and a perfect master knows the secret of giving everything at a glance. However in most cases it is then left to the student to do the 'walking' (studying, learning, etc.) by himself, since, even though the stations of the way may be known, without the deep understanding of the love and the mercy, students are largely left to the discipline of self control rather than to the freedom of self transformation.
The acceptance of Islam alone is sufficient to heal through the commonly understood principles of behavioral (energy) modification. By correcting and aligning one's actions, speech, and thoughts (energies) with the Divine plan, one alters the course of one's life, and changes its direction from degenerative and destructive, to regenerative and constructive. This is a most fundamental form of energy healing.
Not to mention the fact that true Sufi masters have always been blessed with the key to energy healing. It is called 'tawajjuh", meaning and implying - to face with intent or intention, to pay attention to or send energy (or love) towards. It is noted in many treatises that this power was exclusive to sufi masters and their empowered representatives and there was no mystery that it was a dispensation from the Divine; a sufficient portion of, and similar to, what was given to beloved Jesus, upon him peace. The dynamics of this marvelous phenomenon are amply clarified in the treatise on idhn.
These evidences should be sufficient to satisfy any doubts as to the necessity of energy healing as an integral part of contemporary sufism, and as to the role of Shadhiliyya in the revival of this wonderful science.