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Sufi Wisdom: Deceitful Donkey

| 4 Comments | 1 TrackBack
by T.L. James of MarsBlog. Part of our weekly Sufi Wisdom series. As terrorist Islam does its best to discredit the religion, it is important to remember that there are other voices within the faith. One such is the Sufis, a branch of Islamic mystics with roots in many religious traditions. The lessons of Sufism are often communicated through humorous stories and mystical or romantic poetry.
Nasrudin was riding home from the bazaar daydreaming of the pulao he would have for his supper. With his thoughts full of the saffroned rice, juicy meat and fried onions, he did not pay much attention to the route his donkey was taking home. His daydream was finally broken when the donkey lurched to a halt outside a house.

'Come! I have all the ingredients for your best pulao,' Nasrudin called to his wife. But the woman he saw before him when he eventually looked up was a complete stranger. Realising that it was not only the wrong wife, but the wrong house and even the wrong village, the Mulla looked at his donkey severely.

'If you had told me that you wish to move here, I would perhaps have considered it, but I will not stand for deceit!'
Who is deceiving whom?

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Tracked: June 10, 2005 11:47 PM
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Sufis and Islamists are so different that to me they seem like entirely different religions. Of course one can observe similar discrepancies among Christians also.


I have always thought of the Sufis as a crypto Jewish Orthodox off-shoot. Much the same tact to communicating the tribal wisdom, similiar chanting to ecstacy and many others that must have been derived from the same source in prehistoric middle eastern communities. If it were the sufis we were dealing with instead of the sunnis, we would get together, eat till we popped, smoke a little weed and shoot the bull till dawn and go home the best of buds.

Maybe I have been smoking a little too much weed?


There's historical evidence that the Hasidic movement in Judaism was influenced by the Sufis. So no, you're not completely on the weed to see similarities. I do too.

But "crypto-Jewish offshoot"? No, that's absolutely the wrong way to describe it. A better and more precise way to put it might be to say:

"It's an ecstatic, spiritual, direct-relationship-with-the-divine practice that happens to have Islam as a foundation."

This explains the commonalities and gives the direct relationship its proper precedence, without collapsing Sufiism into something else or otherwise denying its identity.

I'll add that I too suspect we'd have far fewer problems these days if the Sufis were stronger. I'm not sure it would end quite as happily as you describe in all cases, because even the Sufis' record is mixed. But better? Lots.

Unfortunately, the wacko Wahabbis fluked out and ended up sitting on the world's biggest oil reserves.

If only we'd recruited that donkey, damnit...

The Wahabbi/Salafists are a classic example of not paying attention to where you're really going (in a spiritual sense). Bet it would have worked.

I accept you wisdom, oh enlighten one. Actually I am one of those grimy necked engineers who was never exposed to anything except math and loud, hot, noisy equipment so I just wing it when it comes to the social side of the human equation.

Equation? See I told you where my mind runs.

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