by MaHmood Nedjmi
EVERY So often, in “in-depth” reports on terrorism for example on MPR and the BBC, one hears that Sufi orders are “behind” various islamic factions setting off bombs and so on, especially in Afghanistan. Recently I heard also a report on the radio that the government of Morocco is cracking down on Sufis. This reflects a time-honored tradition in Islam itself of internal and brotherly and altogether perfectly human fighting and quarreling going all the way back to the first decades after the Prophet MuHammad (pbuh) was carried away to paradise.
So what are “these Sufis” up to?
I think that so far I have written enough that you will realize that Sufis as such place little store in bombs as a practical tool for solving human problems of development. Sufis in other words know a good deal about karma. On the other hand, though, individual Sufis are typically involved with different individuals and populations that as a rule are stuck in one way or another. Sufis are teachers. Sometimes, most of the time in fact, the most-effective teaching has to be left to trial and error, so that people at their own rate or capacity of taking in new information can learn for themselves. This is the origin of the wise saying that “who tastes, knows.”
In that way of working then, Sufis act mainly as guides.
Now as is well-known one can hardly say anything at all to an obsessional without the risk of that individual going straight up to the Moon. Talk is not so much cheap as just useless. This is because virtually any word is “magic,” certainly in the sense that more-often-than-not by talking (and writing!) all the time the most certain result is liable to be outrage, emotionalism, denial, counter-projections and name-calling. Or else frantic panting assent if you say what the other wants to hear. In the first case the best example to come to mind is politics. In the second case, the world is full of seducers and liars who have learned only-too-well the power of the phrase “I love you.” What Sufis most-often have to do therefore when confronted by fanatics demanding “instruction” is to put into practice a wise saying of certain Native Americans:
“Do not spank the little child to warn it away from the fire — the fire will teach the child.”
In this context of course the real guides are the ones who actually do know the destination — and who also know that the unregenerate human being can only get there by making the journey one step at a time. They also know full well that they are not dealing with the innocence of little children. Rather they are trying to cope with childishness. Therefore when one is confronted by a person or group that is ridden by affects, group-feeling and lunacy, and if one is in fact a “real” teacher, one will not spend a lot of time on “peace and love.” People in virtually every learning-situation have things that they first of all have to get out of their systems. The responsible teacher will therefore aid and abet them in every way necessary to try to get them their comeuppance sooner rather than later.
This is because if there necessarily are Sufis working at the level of the terrorists, there are as well others in the the innermost circles of the governments of the West, which allegedly are fighting terrorism. All involved behind the scenes on all sides are fighting a daily uphill battle against the universal curse of stupidity which (taken together with immature cravings for “career,” excitement and being on Tee Vee) is actually evil in the case of the willful. Because of the nature of the problem, then, there is plenty of room in the work of the Sufi for people whose primary desire is to have cults and seduce their followers and throw their weight around. Someone has to entertain the incorrigible.
In closing I only want to say that in a major way the real conflict in human life is between those who have an inner attitude and those for whom all the exciting stuff “out there” is what is real and true and “good” and beautiful — even if it requires mountains of the dead.
In this context the work of wisdom — because it is about fostering wisdom — is mainly tedious.
[Emmett R Smith
[all transcription rights reserved
[30 July 2006]