The Language of the Future
Sufi Terminology
by Murshid F.A. Ali ElSenossi

Higher teaching

(Tasawwuf). Also known as the science of the self, tasawwuf is based upon the Teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (May the Salutations of Allah be upon him and Peace). It is known in the West as Sufism or Islamic mysticism. Tasawwuf is the acquisition of the noble character traits through purification of the heart, and is based on four foundations - Returning to Allah, asking forgiveness, developing spiritual consciousness and good actions (tauba, istighfaar, taqwa and amal salih). The one who aspires to Knowledge of Allah is called a mutasawwif. The Purified One who has made the Journey of Return, from his lower self to his Higher Self, is a Sufi. The Perfect Sufi, who is unknown to others, is from the People of Blame. The Master of the People of Blame, the sufis, the ones who aspire, the believers and the non-believers is the Holy Prophet Muhammad (May the Salutations of Allah be upon him and Peace). Tasawwuf is the Science which takes the traveller through the unending degrees of knowing Allah. Our Master Muhammad the Chosen One is the means by which his followers, lovers and slaves, may attain to Allah Almighty. Tasawwuf is Spiritual and moral Courtesy. To every time, there are manners and to every state there are manners. Whoever holds fast to the higher ethics of all of his times, will reach the higher place of the People of Allah. The one who sees the generosity of Allah upon him in every state, has the glad tidings that he will not follow the path of destruction.The manifestation of good manners outwardly is an indication to good manners inwardly as the Holy Prophet said: “If his heart is in a state of submission then his limbs will follow suit”. Whoever loses his good manners, is far away even though he may think he is near. He has been turned back from the same way that he thinks acceptance is taking place.

See also: Beautiful character traits Beautiful Model Boy Community Divine knowledge Follower Means One who aspires People of blame Seeker Self Spiritual courtesy Spiritual Guide Spiritual Journey Traveller Travelling
(Husn al Akhlaq). The beautiful character traits with which the Holy Prophet Muhammad was sent and of which he is the perfect embodiment. The assuming of these beautiful character traits is the alchemical work of the Islamic Spiritual Path. Under the direction of a qualified Master (Murshid, Shaykh, Pir) the disciple (murid/seeker) is given the means by which he can transform his base character traits into the beautiful and noble ones and, in so doing, fulfill his 'reason for being'.
(Uswa hasana). The Holy Prophet Muhammad al Mustapha (May the Salutations of Allah be upon him and Peace) is the beautiful model. Through his perfect example man is given the means of drawing closer, and yet closer, to Allah. The degrees of such nearness depend upon the manner and attitude in which one follows the beautiful model. Those who love Allah and His Messenger more than anything, more than life itself, are the slaves who follow Muhammad al Mustapha in their outer lives and in their inner realities. To approach Allah, the slave must first meet the Holy Prophet Muhammad. This meeting is a Mystery. The Holy Prophet Muhammad, the beautiful model, becomes the slave's inner reality through the unveiling of the Reality of Muhammad. The hadith says, "Who has seen me has seen Allah".
(Umma) refers specifically to the community of the Seal of the Prophets, Muhammad (May the Salutations of Allah be upon him and Peace). He is the Seal of the Prophets. The Message which he delivered to the humanity, through the Final Revelation The Qur'an, and through his own perfection, is alive and fresh and dynamic. The Final Revelation and the Seal of the Prophets have no end. Both of them contain the keys to the endless unfolding of Knowledge of the Absolute. The entire humanity is the umma of the Holy Prophet Muhammad al Mustapha. Within his perfect and complete Teaching are the vital aspects of the Teachings of all the previous Prophets and Messengers of Allah. But Muhammad al Mustapha completed and perfected the Way of Returning to the Beautiful Face of Allah. Each and every human is a member of the community of Muhammad al Mustafa (May Allah shower him with His Eternal salutations and blessings and give him Peace). "This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour unto you and have chosen for you as your religion Islam" (The Qur'an 5:3).
(Ma'rifa) is a light which Allah casts into the heart of whomsoever He Wills. This is the true knowledge which comes through unveiling, witnessing and tasting. This knowledge is from Allah, it is not Allah Himself, because He Is Unknowable in His Essence. The triad on the Sufi Path of Return is comprised of Fear, Knowledge and Love. Fear leads to Knowledge which leads to Unconditional Love of Allah. It is said that spiritual struggle is child's play while ma'rifa is men's work.
(Tabi'). This term refers to the one who is a follower of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (May the Salutations of Allah be upon him and Peace). A follower strives to emulate his perfect and beautiful character. A friend of Allah is always a follower (tabi') of the Prophet Muhammad and is never independent of his guidance. To be a true tabi' is to be greatly blessed. To be utterly dependent upon our Master, Sayyiduna Muhammad, is a gift from Allah.
(Wasila) indicates the means through which man can come close to Allah. "Seek the means of approach to Him" (The Qur'an 5:35). The one and only wasila is the Holy Prophet Muhammad al Mustapha (May the Salutations of Allah be upon him and Peace). There is no other means to ascend from the physical realm to the Divine Presence. The seeker traverses the first stages of the Journey of Return to Allah with the direct aid and under the protection of his Murshid. These are the stages of spiritual struggle, ascetic discipline and abstinence. Through the Grace of Allah the murid may attain to annihilation in the Murshid. But, no one will meet Allah before meeting the Prophet. The murid can advance no further towards Allah Almighty unless he travels with the wasila. The lover does not reach Allah through being a lover. He only reaches Allah through being the Beloved of Allah, and there is only one Beloved of Allah and that is Muhammad al Mustapha. The only way up is within him. Because the Reality of Muhammad has been unveiled to the slaves and true followers of the Master Muhammad, they are drowned and annihilated in him. (The stairs to ascend to the top floor) Using the means - 'by the baraka of. . . '
(Al Malamatiyya). These are the Perfect Ones. Their exteriors never disclose the reality of their interiors. They are those who know and are not known. Al malamatiyya are Allah's perfect slaves, Allah's perfect lovers, Allah's perfect knowers. They manifest His All-Comprehensive Name 'Allah', without a trace of Lordship. Allah has placed their 'blaming self' over them as a protection against self-conceit or satisfaction. They are the greatest of the Sufis. They are in constant submission and surrender to the Will of Allah. A Murshid (Spiritual Guide) who is one of the malamatiyya is the perfect Murshid and his murids often attain to Manliness. The Master of the cosmos, the Best of Creation, Muhammad al Mustapha (May the Salutations of Allah be upon him and Peace), who is a Malamatiyya, is their Master.
(Murid). The one who desires Allah. The murid is the seeker of Reality who is under the direction of a Spiritual Guide (Murshid). He has entered the company of those who concentrate upon Allah through the Remembrance of His Most Holy Name 'Allah'.
(Nafs). The ego or the self or the soul. The nafs is that dimension of man which stands between the spirit which is light, and the physical body which is darkness. The spiritual struggle or combat is waged against the downward-pulling tendencies of the nafs which seduce the heart away from Allah. The nafs is also the domain of imagination. Allah is within our own selves, yet we do not see Allah. The work of the higher teaching is directed towards transforming the 'Lower Self' into the Higher 'Perfect Self' and 'seeing' Allah everywhere. There are seven stages of the self, seven postures in the ritual prayer, seven verses or 'signs' in the opening chapter of The Qur'an, and seven levels of knowledge, all of which are finely interconnected. Shaykh Mahmoud Taha of Sudan writes concerning the self: "This soul is immortal in essence despite the changes that befall it through different forms and at different times and places. At no time does the soul cease its quest for immortality - to be immortal in form as it is in essence. This story is . . . the story of every human being. However, we all have forgotten it. By 'forgetting' it is meant that it settled at the bottom of the unconscious and was then covered by a thick layer of illusions and fears that we inherited from the times of ignorance and superstition. There is no way that we can achieve our happiness unless we break through this thick layer. . . which prevents the forms of the unconscious to be reflected in the mirror of the conscious and hence reveal the greater truth, the truth of truths that is shrouded by the veils of light. This long story that flows from the unconscious is made of the same stuff as that of dreams. The Qur'an is made out of the same stuff. It was brought into existence only to remind us of our extraordinary story. He who remembers it will acquire knowledge beyond which there is no ignorance and an immortality beyond which there is no perishing".
(Adab) is spiritual courtesy and gracious behaviour of the Path and perfect refinement of words and deeds. Adab is giving each thing and each moment its proper due. The science of the higher teaching is based upon adab, which encompasses all of human life. It extends from right behaviour with regard to the Sacred Law (Shari'a), right behaviour with one's fellow travellers, proper conduct towards the teaching and one's teacher, and reaches to unceasing spiritual courtesy to Allah Himself. The proper courtesy towards the Law is to stay within its boundaries, the proper conduct with regards to good actions is to complete the action and disconnect from it. Adab with regard to the Real is knowing what belongs to oneself and what belongs to Allah. Each moment and each situation has it's own adab. It has been said that the higher teaching is all adab and the greater your understanding and implementation of proper conduct is, the higher you are in the teaching.
(Murshid/Shaykh/Pir). The Murshid is a True Inheritor of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (May the Salutations of Allah be upon him and Peace). After having been taken to the Divine Presence during his ascension the slave has been returned, by Allah, to the creation to guide and perfect the still imperfect ones. He was taken up as a slave and returned as a slave and Murshid. The qualities of an authentic Murshid are those of his own Master and Teacher, the Holy Prophet himself. The sacred connection between a Murshid and his murids was established in Pre-Eternity and continues into Eternity. Because of the Murshid's own spiritual attainments his murids have the possibility of becoming travellers. The perfect Murshid is of The People of Blame and his murids sometimes also attain Perfection. For the murid, the Murshid is one of the 'signs on the horizons', the outward of his own inward. What he sees in the mirror of his Murshid is a reflection of what is within his own self. He may also see within the Murshid the good qualities and excellent character traits which are yet latent in himself.
(Safar). This is the Journey from the multiplicity of the periphery to the Unity at the Centre. The safar commences when the heart is turned towards Allah through His Remembrance. Safar is the Spiritual Journey through the various stations, from the self to the Self..
(Musaffir) is the traveller (salik) who understands invisible things through the analogy of visible ones, thereby swimming from the shore of this world to the further shore.
(Suluk) is travelling or Wayfaring. Suluk is journeying along the Spiritual Path of Return to the Source. It is the methodical travelling, through the states and stations, under the direction of a Spiritual Master (Shaykh, Murshid). The one who travels is the salik. The advance of the slave towards Allah is really the advance of Allah towards His slave. "Verily, I desire them more than they desire Me" says the beautiful Hadith Qudsi.

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