by Najmi Mohamed
SUFIS Are altogether mysterious in the precise sense of the word. The work they do is necessarily hidden both because it is often inward and on other levels, and because too many involvements with others therefore would be counterproductive. Real Sufis are usually so busy that they have little time for “being” Sufis to any paying audience. I don’t mean that Sufis all hide out and are hermits, quite the reverse. A certain number of the minor players are busy after all in the outward role of introductory teachers, working up to the limits of language and art and collective images to let potential students of wisdom know that there is indeed “something” available. For the rest Sufis fall in love, get married as often as not, hold “real” jobs and are usually normal in terms of their individual setting in every way. As a human matter they too have their lapses from “grace,” they get mad and swear and sometimes go through troubles just like the rest of us, with bills, drinking too much, marriage, their children, you name it. A minor sign may be that they go through these hard times and gradually the old preoccupations slough away. (A necessary corollary is that of course they are not all “Muhammadans.”)
About the only distinguishing characteristic the unregenerate person may have to go on is that as a rule Sufis are quite happy people. This is maybe because they are the supreme realists among us. Indeed usually Sufis learn soon to be carefully careful not to flaunt their inner calm because there is no good on Earth in provoking emotions of envy and irritation. The happiness of the Sufi is not a matter of money and good health and lots of good times, although since half of all Sufis who ever lived are alive today naturally not a few of them are rich people. But there are necessarily just as many Sufis proportionately in the slums of South Africa–and Baghdad–as there are in the Pentagon and Westchester and at the golf course in Palm Beach.
So the happiness of which I am writing here is that admittedly hard-won calm certainty that is the property of people who know at all times exactly where they are at in this life–and what to do in any case that may arise. The Sufi is calmly happy because he or she always knows what to do next in any situation.
And the Sufi does not waste time on regrets or what-might-have-beens when it is time to act:
IN The World Trade Towers on 11 September in 2001, in both buildings at that supreme moment of agony there was here or there just one or perhaps three or seven men and women who held back from the terror and panic. The exact number does not matter, all that is important is that there were enough. They stayed by their desks at least until the fire and heat became unbearable and they took in with their senses all of that horror. Then, one by one, they too jumped to their deaths–and they carried in themselves the living images of all those around them into foreverness.
[Emmett R Smth
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[24 July 2006]