The Sufi Way of Love
The believer who yearns for something deeper than the promised reward of eternal salvation for good behavior is faced with a challenge which springs from within. Happiness for him is not achieved by clinging to the hope of endless delights in Paradise, nor is he motivated toward being good in order to avoid the agonies of hell. Consciously or unconsciously, this seeker is after absolute truth. It is the inner man who remembers when he was not separated from his Lord, and now longs to be reunited with his true Beloved. Although in fact no real dichotomy exists, the mind learned to create a separate entity of itself, wrapped up in human flesh, when the self was born. This seeker craves for the conscious realization of what his heart already knows – that he is connected very intimately with the essence of Allah, and in fact his true nature lies in the experience of knowing that ultimate reality. The task at hand thus becomes to discover where his “self” fits in relation to Allah’s unlimited Being.
As for those who strive for Us, We will definitely guide them to Our paths and (then surely you will see that) Allah is with the doers of good. (Qur’an 29:69)
According to a Sufi saying, “Heart is the sultan,” because that is where Allah makes His presence known in the human being. Love is the medium of unity, the process through which the electromagnetic vibrations produced by the heart and mind are working in tandem, thereby setting up the optimum scenario for spiritual learning. Tasawwuf, known in the West as Sufism, is the process through which Allah, through the shaykh, clears the path into the depths of the seeker’s heart, which is the seat of divine union, and therefore the “house” of God.
The human being’s conscience is the voice of the ruh (spirit; soul) making itself heard in his heart. For the Sufi, expanding one’s consciousness means directing his or her attention to the wisdom of the heart, because knowledge from Allah is broadcast to that center of his being. The goal of tasawwuf training is to be able to hear Allah’s voice in the heart, and for a loving relationship with Allah to develop in that site of spiritual interchange. The mature human being makes his choices based on the information housed therein, using his aql (rational mind; intellect) as the arbiter of messages and information that come through. Many notions may spring up, but it takes a mature human being to be able to differentiate among them and recognize the sources of such communications.
In the material world of proofs, Allah has made moral distinctions for human beings so that they can choose good and avoid evil. The wisdom on which good action is based is learned in three ways: by hearing of or reading about universal truths, by observing these truths in action or experience, and directly from Allah. It is Allah within that the Sufi strives to touch. Sufis wish to be with Allah in the same intimate way that lovers are united. All of creation serves Allah, willingly or unwillingly. Sufis wish to serve Allah willingly, knowingly, and lovingly. That is why Sufism is called the way of the heart, designed to bring the human being to his ultimate objective of loving intimacy with Allah.
When the heart is clean, the inner spiritual senses come alive to balance the outer senses. The mature Sufi’s heart has become identified with Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) heart, which is in constant rapport with the essence of Allah. It is aligned with Allah and the entire universe, and has, in a sense, become the universe. Through such a heart Allah sends His mercy to creation. The Sufi functions as a servant of Allah in this material world in an active way, through beneficial action, and in a passive way, as a conduit for Allah’s mercy. In this way the Sufi is said to follow in the footsteps of Muhammad (pbuh).