Sufism: A Search for Freedom and Self-Authenticity

Posted in Articles

 

sufi02

As I step-up and deepen my readings on Islamic spirituality, I sensed that Sufism as a philosophy and as a movement has strong affinity with those movements that seek human authenticity and freedom: say for example the hippie movements, the counter-culture, the Gypsy lifestyle, and the anti-establishment movements in the 1960s and the 1970s. I really feel that there is a strong similarity between the aspirations of the Sufis of Islam and the hippies and the anti-establishment movements concerning the human person’s freedom and authenticity to choose for himself how to live one’s life in the midst of the nauseating hegemony of the society that forces us into unthinking conformity to conventional conditioning and tyranny of the majority opinion on how to live one’s life.

As I steeped myself in reading treatises of the Sufi sages of Islam, I must say that there is in my heart a very strong attraction to both the Sufi and the hippie view of what authentic life is all about. I feel that if a person is to be authentic to his self or if a person, in his deepest being, is seriously searching for his authentic self beyond the impositions of conventions and beyond the hegemonic imputation and conditioning of society, then such a person has both a Sufi heart and a hippie spirit. Sufis and hippies desire to look at the world from the perspective of authenticity. Sufis and hippies inquire deep within their very being as to what really makes us happy and Sufis do not care about what society prescribes to make us happy. Sufis ask people who come to them these questions: “After all these things and fame that you have achieved, are you truly happy, are you really fulfilled? If you have achieved things that society tells you to achieve, what about? Are you now really happy and truly contented?”

Both Sufis and hippies are in search of something higher, of something more: something that society in its consumeristic dog-eat-dog capitalist rat-race-of-living fails to realize and achieve. There must be more to life than these mundane things that this materialistic world offers. There are more things to life than just collecting money, hunger for fame and accumulation of material stuffs! I feel that this search for something more to life, something higher than materialism is a sign of spiritual sensitivity—and it is precisely this kind of sensitive heart that can truly discover the real reason for life and the true significance of human existence, beyond the temporary and ephemeral materialistic pursuits that this capitalist crazed world is peddling to us, contemporary humans. It is this very human sensitivity of the heart that "there is Something Higher, there is Something More" that makes this “Higher” and “More” to eventually manifest and reveal Itself to those authentic seekers of Transcendental Life.

Sufis and hippies are not interested in mundane positions and material possessions. Genuine Sufis are oblivious of worldly priorities; and this is not because they deny the reality of the material world—it is because they have come to understand that the priorities of this material world is skewed, twisted, temporary and ultimately destructive to human self-transcendence. This world’s priorities are inimical to our inner sensitivity to spiritual well-being. Sufis and hippies prioritize love, freedom, authenticity, empathy and transcendence: these are the higher values that make our life truly human and humane. Sufis and hippies—and to a great extent, the Gypsies—are in search of freedom, love and self-authenticity: they aspire for freedom and love that is genuine and unbounded as these three human attributes of genuine human existence will bring the "Sufi-hippie-Gypsy" to the Higher Source of Meaning, that the authentic person so desperately seek all his/her life’s existence…

I fully concur with the Sufi maxim as articulated by the 12th century Sufi saint of Turkey, Hazreti Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi when he said that ultimately, God will judge us and our actions in this life based on how authentic we have become, how genuine our intentions are, how much we have loved, how free and unfettered is our love for one-and-all, and how truly available we are as God’s conduit or vessel of doing good for others. I feel that this Sufi maxim of Rumi is already a sufficient rule to life for those who aspire to be “Sufi-hippie-Gypsies” in their life. I aspire to have this kind of heart, a heart that loves truly and cares deeply to all he/she encounters in life; and by God's will, I am aspiring to be “Sufi-hippie-Gypsy” starting today and the rest of my journey in this short and temporary earthly existence. How about you? Something to ponder deeply in our journey through life…

By Prof. Henry Francis B. Espiritu, New Age Islam

Prof.HenryFrancisB Espiritu

About the Author:

Prof. Henry Francis B. Espiritu is Associate Professor-VI of Philosophy and Asian Studies at the University of the Philippines (UP), Cebu City. He was former Academic Coordinator of the Political Science Program at UP Cebu from 2011-2014. He was also the former Coordinator of Gender and Development (GAD) Office at UP Cebu from 2015-2016. His research interests include Islamic Studies particularly Sunni jurisprudence, Islamic feminist discourses, Islam in interfaith dialogue initiatives, Islamic environmentalism, Classical Sunni Islamic pedagogy, the writings of Imam Al-Ghazali on pluralism and tolerance, Turkish Sufism, Muslim-Christian dialogue, Middle Eastern affairs, Peace Studies and Public Theology.