Welcome to the thoughts, rants and passions of a young Muslim woman seeking soulful enlightenment in cyberspace.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Once You Believe In God, There Is No Religion

Here is a quote from The Illuminated Prayer, written by the late Sufi mystic Bawa Muhaiyaddeen:

"You are a Christian because you believe in Jesus, and you are a Jew because you believe in all the prophets including Moses. You are a Muslim because you believe in Muhammad as a prophet, and you are a Sufi because you believe in the universal teaching of God's love. You are really none of those, but you are all of those because you believe in God. And once you believe in God, there is no religion. Once you divide yourself off with religions, you are separated from your fellowman."

Any thoughts from my Sufi friends? How do you interpret this statement? Do you agree with it? And how do you view Muhaiyaddeen himself?


  • At 3/08/2005 06:17:00 p.m., Blogger Levantine Historian said…

    Answer: Simple, you don't interpret it the way of the Sufis is to follow and take the teachings of an authorised genuine sheikh whose authorisation goes back through an isnad to the Prophet, peace be upon him who is upon the Koran the Sunnah and the Shariah. And not to take sufism from books, or from people who aren't sheikhs.

    Second, so much which is written in books in English on Sufism is written by the perenialist movement who proclaim the universal validity of all religions which is beyond the pale of Islam. There is no Sufism without Shariah, fiqh, or correct aqida. The perenialist movement led by S.H. Nasr are responsible for giving corrupted intepretations of Sufi texts in English to make the texts read in support of the universal validity of all religions.

    Advice: take sufism from a living authorised sheikh whose practice and teaching and belief is in accordance with sunni Islam, not from other sources.

  • At 3/08/2005 11:33:00 p.m., Blogger Leila M. said…


    Safiyya I can link to you, right?


  • At 3/08/2005 11:36:00 p.m., Blogger Leila M. said…

    you know... I am beginning to understand statements such as Bawa M's as well as the quintessential one everyone quotes about Al-Haq.

    The problem isn't the statement, it's the literalism others take it as in their lives...

    Now you have me thinking, don't do that!

  • At 3/09/2005 01:19:00 a.m., Blogger Safiyyah said…


    Great to hear from you. I've often admired your writing from afar. You are more than welcome to link to me.

    As for your comments regarding the statement above, I agree that one must recognize what is to be taken literally and what is not. I realize this statement is meant in a figurative sense. At the same time, I think there is a certain point at which allegory and metaphor are insufficient, and one must be able to express oneself plainly to get the message across. Although LH says we cannot interpret Muhaiyuddin's statement, I would like to find out what people think BM meant to convey by expressing himself in this way.

    I should warn that I know little about BM. I was forwarded this quote as a means of inspiration from an individual who is not a Muslim. So I am speaking from ignorance. And that is not always a good thing;)

    Take care,


  • At 3/09/2005 03:33:00 p.m., Blogger Knightmare said…

    God said via the prophet(Muhammad), "I am God, worship me and this is your religion(Islam)". I'm gonna go with God on this one. No disrespect to Bawa.

  • At 3/10/2005 06:24:00 a.m., Blogger dawud al-gharib said…


    Bawa was a (according to a great number of ulema, and people I've met, who knew him personally) a WaliuLlah, and an intense human being. He spoke in Tamil, had no birth records (he was thought to be over 100 when he emerged from Sri Lanka's forests), and had spent a lot of time in the jungles evading 'Civilization' (of which Ghandi said amusingly about 'Western Civilization', "it's a good idea.")

    I don't know him personally, couldn't interpret his words, but know that he led a lot of people (Jews, atheists, Hindus, Buddhist and even 'lapsed muslims') back to faith, and to an appreciation of all faiths. He himself was a practicing muslim, but had a large number of students (and scholars of other religions) of other faiths, whom he treated with polite hospitality and wise consideration.

    As far as the essence of the statement, I would have to agree with Levantine Historian, Knightmare (and Shaykh Nuh) on the 'finality of Islam'; 'This day, I have chosen Islam for you as your religion' - on the other hand, I don't have a problem with Moses (peace be upon him) saying: 'as for me and my household, we will choose the Lord' or Jesus (peace be upon him and his blessed mother) saying 'I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life - no one comes to Abba (aramaic) except through me' -

    ie, I believe in Prophetic dispensations: that previous peoples had prophets (the Qur'an: 'to each people we sent a warner' - and Imam Ghazali, rahimuLlah, wrote that one couldn't consider anyone a 'kafr' (rejector, concealer of faith) until he had been presented with Islam in the best of ways, and rejected it despite knowing it to be the Truth.

    If one needs Qur'anic arguments to back this up, one can look at Surah Hujarat: 49.14
    YUSUFALI: The desert Arabs say, "We believe." Say, "Ye have no faith; but ye (only)say, 'We have submitted our wills to Allah,' For not yet has Faith entered your hearts. But if ye obey Allah and His Messenger, He will not belittle aught of your deeds: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."

    Faith is privileged here over merely declaring oneself a muslim, though that should be accepted of all who make shahada, accept the six points of iman, and practice the five pillars.

    this could become too lengthy ;)

    peace, all;


Post a Comment

<< Home