Friday, January 15, 2010


Which of you can by taking thought add a cubit to his stature?" ---Jesus Christ

I cannot deal with the History of Sufism, nor its place in Islam, nor the way you can seek a Sheikh for yourself in modern times, nor what to do with the claims of someone who claims to be a Pir, and cure many diseases…These questions are outside of our discussion today (sorry!) My topic is Diversity in Tariqat i.e. What resources do the inner path and its teachings have to offer to deal with “the other”. Or simply put: If Sufism is essential knowledge, why are there different silsilas? So let me briefly offer some definitions of the five major orders and then offer a way of looking at them as attempts to deal with the diversity.

The Major Sufi Orders
The Indo Pakistan Sub-Continent has had the presence of the four major brotherhoods: With a fifth also present here but its spread has been mainly in Africa. The Chishti, The Naqshbandi, The Suhrawardi and The Qadri.

The Qadriyya Order is connected to the great saint Hazrat Abdul Qadir Jilani (RA). Insisting on the Shari’a, it offers a most vigorous set of practices that truly involve the body, mind and soul.

The Suhrawardiyya trace their lineage to Shaykh Abu Najeeb Suhrawardi. Strong on the Shari’a they follow the illumination path and seek the lights whereby the fruits of their practices may be recognized.

The Naqshbandiyya may be called the intellectual path: they offer a set of practices that are later grasped intellectually. Hazrat Bahauddin Naqshband was an intellectual giant and his teachings have left a permanent imprint on the spirituality of Central Asian region and beyond.

The Chishtiyya are famous for the music, the qawwalis, the devotional songs that many see as “outside” the Shari’a…It must be recalled that Chishti Masters have said: “If lion flesh can be declared halal to cure a sick body, what must be done for a sick heart?”

These four you may be familiar with but the fifth major order is now vastly better known for its international fame: The Shazliyya after Shaykh Abul Hasan Shazli.

Abbas Husain

Diversity of Thought in Islamic Shariat, Tariqat & Culture
29th July 2007
Aiwan-e-Iqbal Complex

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