Islam and Sufism – Delving into the Enigmatic Connections Between Islamic Mysticism and the Occult
Welcome to the fifth installment of our six-part blog series exploring how religion, spirituality, and the occult intersect. In this post, we’ll delve into the world of Islam and its mystical branch, Sufism, exploring the connections between Islamic spirituality and the occult and uncovering the esoteric practices that have shaped the spiritual landscape of the Islamic world.
Sufism: A Mystical Path to God
Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam, seeks a direct connection with God through practices like meditation, chanting, and spiritual dance. Sufis, known for their ascetic lifestyle and devotion, aim to purify their hearts and souls to draw closer to the divine. Some notable Sufi figures include Jalaluddin Rumi, a 13th-century Persian poet, and mystic, whose poetry continues to inspire millions; Al-Ghazali, a renowned Islamic theologian and philosopher who helped integrate Sufism into mainstream Islamic thought; and the 12th-century Persian poet, Fariduddin Attar, whose work, “The Conference of the Birds,” is an allegorical masterpiece. While the goals of Sufism are rooted in Islamic theology, its practices and emphasis on personal spiritual experience resonate with many aspects of the occult.
Islamic Esoteric Practices
The Islamic world has a rich history of studying and practicing esoteric arts like astrology, alchemy, and talismanic magic. Scholars like Jabir ibn Hayyan, known as the father of early chemistry, and Al-Kindi, a pioneer in the fields of mathematics, philosophy, and music, made significant contributions to the fields of alchemy and astrology. The Picatrix, a comprehensive grimoire on astrology and magic, which originated in the Arab world, has been influential in Western esotericism. These works continue to influence the world of the occult today, providing a foundation for many modern esoteric practices.
The Influence of Sufism on the Occult
Sufism’s emphasis on personal spiritual experience and its connection with the divine has left a lasting impact on the world of the occult. The teachings and practices of Sufism have inspired countless seekers to explore the depths of the divine and the hidden mysteries of existence. For example, Idries Shah, a 20th-century author, and teacher, introduced Sufi ideas to the Western world. His works have influenced many contemporary spiritual movements, including the human potential movement and modern Gurdjieffian schools. Moreover, the works of Islamic scholars who delved into the esoteric arts have helped shape the spiritual landscape of the modern world.
As we’ve seen, Islam and its mystical branch, Sufism, have deep connections with the occult. From the spiritual practices of Sufis to the scholarly pursuits of Islamic astrologers and alchemists, these traditions have left a lasting impact on our spiritual landscape. In the final installment of our series, we’ll explore the modern spiritual landscape, examining the connections between New Age, Neopaganism, witchcraft, and the world of the occult. Stay tuned!