Sufi Mystical Approaches

Dr. Jamal Elias
Department of Religion
Amherst College

The topic of this lecture was the Sufi approach to God. The main injunction the Sufis take on is the call to always remember God. For the Sufis this is a call for continuous mystic prayer and awareness. This was first taken by the early Sufis to be achieved through asceticism and continuous prayer. Abandonment and ascetic practice were undertaken with the intention of cultivating deep devotion to God and of relying totally on God for everything.

The motivation behind Sufi denial is one of love. By the 10th century, Sufism became highly theorized according to Platonic philosophy. The human being was considered as the pinnacle of divine creation. The purpose of creation is to climb the ladder back to God. The God of the Sufis is a God that wants to be known and discovered, a God that needs the world in order to manifest His omnipotence. For the Sufi the human being represents a microcosm of the universe, the end goal of God’s desire to create. The life-long process of each human being is to realize what we truly are, and in so doing to perfect creation. It is a journey from stage to stage of realization, with the first one consisting of repentance.