(Last Updated on : 09/08/2010)
The basic principles of Sufism were provided by Abdul Khaliq al Ghujdawani, who was one of the greatest Sufi Masters of the Naqshbandi Order
of Sufis. Till about the 6th century Hijri, the Sufis practised loud Dhikr (Jikr, Japa or remembrance) i.e. they used to recite the name of the Almighty loudly by tongue. It was Shaikh Gujdawani who introduced and propounded the system of silent Dhikr. He was the first one in the Sufi orders to use silent Dhikr and was later considered the master of silent Dhikr. He coined the following phrases to which three more principles were added later by Muhammad Bahauddin Shah Naqshband after whom the order acquired its name. In his book Faslul Kitab, Shaikh Muhammad Parsa, a friend and biographer of Shah Naqshband, said that the method of Shaikh Khwaja Abdul Khaliq al Ghujdawani in Dhikr and the teachings enunciated in his Eight Principles were embraced and hailed by all the forty tariqats (Sufi Orders) as the way of Truth and loyalty.
The principles of Sufism laid down by him are as follows:
Hosh dar Dam (Conscious Breathing)
The true seeker should always be alert that he does not take any breath devoid of God's remembrance. He must remain in God's Presence with every breath. Every breath taken consciously is alive and every breath taken in recklessness is to be considered to have been lost. One should ensure with every breath that he does not indulge in doing a wrong or a sin. It is necessary to be in the Presence of the Almighty with every breath, in order to realise the Essence of the Creator. It is, however, difficult for seekers to secure breath from heedlessness. Therefore, they must safeguard it by seeking forgiveness, which will purify and sanctify it and prepare them for the Real Manifestation of the Almighty everywhere.
Nazar bar Kadam (Watch Your Step)
Each step moved forward should be taken consciously i.e. one should not do anything which may drag him down or which may obstruct his spiritual progress. It also means that one should avoid looking here and there aimlessly as the mind forms its impressions by seeing things. This is why Sufi saints ask their followers to look at their feet while walking. As the mind becomes more and more purified by various practices, it becomes more and more prone to be afflicted. A spot on a spotless clean sheet is more likely to be visible and noticed than on a dirty sheet. The first glance is, however, harmless but a second look i.e. a deliberate look forms an impression on the mind. One should therefore, take each step forward in His remembrance. Spiritually perhaps it may mean that one must keep his objective constantly in view and if one does so one is bound to reach his destination.
Safar dar Watan (Journey Homeward)
This means that the seeker must move from the world of creation to the world of Creator. Moving away from worldly desires and human weaknesses and acquiring godly characteristics is known as 'Safar dar Watan.' The Naqshbandi Sufi Order divides this journey into two parts. The first is external in which the seeker desires and searches for the Master. The internal journey begins with the blessing and grace of the Master. The internal journey leads to the purification of his heart and makes him eligible to receive the Divine grace.
Khilawat dar Anjuman (Solitude in the Crowd)
Khilawat means seclusion, both external and internal. External seclusion requires the seeker to be away from people, staying by himself and spending his time in the remembrance of God. This helps in gaining control over sensual perceptions and reaching the state of internal seclusion. The internal seclusion means whether amidst a crowd, walking or doing anything else, one should constantly have his mind fixed on the Almighty. This is the state that the Sufis need to adopt so that they remain constantly in the Presence of the Almighty. Worldly affairs do not disturb them.
Yad Kard (Essential Remembrance)
'Yad' means remembrance and 'Kard' means essence of remembrance. To keep oneself continuously engaged in reciting the 'Japa' (the internal practice as directed by the Master) and in such a manner that the seeker starts feeling the presence of the Master or the Almighty in his heart is the Essential Remembrance.
Baj Gasht (Returning)
The literal meaning of 'Baj Gasht' is to return back to the origin. In its true sense, however, it refers to developments during internal practice when the seeker may come across different experiences such as sighting of light, activation of the mystique centres, acquiring miraculous powers etc. However, these experiences may often result in the downfall of the seeker as they may arouse the ego. Therefore the great masters of this order have recommended the seekers to keep on praying to the Almighty at regular intervals affirming that He alone is the objective of the seeker. The seeker should beg the Almighty for his love and knowledge and to give him strength in whatever condition he finds himself.
Nigah Dasht (Attentiveness)
The seeker of God should always keep an eye on his internal condition so that no doubt or ill thought ever arises and he constantly keeps on remembering the Almighty. If ever such a thought arises, one should immediately check that thought, otherwise if such a thought stays in the mind once, it may become difficult to clear it later. Sufism is to protect one's heart from bad thoughts and from worldly inclinations.
Yad Dasht (Recollection)
It means continuous remembrance. When the seeker through practice becomes so adept that the remembrance continues in the heart effortlessly on its own, it is called Yad Dasht.
The three principles added by Muhammad Bahauddin Shah Naqshband are as follows:
Wakoof Zamani (Awareness of Time)
The seeker must watch that the time at his command is spent in the remembrance of the Almighty and he must make all efforts to make progress on the path of spirituality. The seeker must recount his actions and deeds and seek His forgiveness for the wrong doings.
Wakoof Adadi (Awareness of Numbers)
According to the principle of Wakoof Adadi, one should while holding the breath recite the name of the God, feeling His Presence in the heart, in odd number i.e. 5,7,9,11,21 etc. The real meaning of Wakoof Adadi, however, appears to be that the Almighty is One and He likes Oneness. It perhaps also means that one should remember the Almighty alone.
Wakoof Kulbi (Awareness of the Heart)
The seeker should always have an eye on his heart (Kulb) so that his attention is always towards the Divine Presence and it is not be diverted elsewhere.
Thus discussed are the various essential principles of Sufism.