When a religion starts to decline and lose the link to the philosophy that gave birth to its faith, it is natural that some groups emerge in an attempt to restore the connection to the divine. When the Islamic world was going through a religious crisis between the eight and twelfth century, the Sufi orders started to spread as a reaction to what they believed to be the distorted interpretation and appliance of the teachings of the Quran and Hadith.
In the past there were many attempts to stop the Sufi orders from spreading, as Sufism was seen as heretic, and many great Sufis were killed – decapitated, crucified or beaten to death – but the wisdom of the Sufi doctrine survived becoming a fundamental part of Islam.
Sufism is the mystical part of Islam and the Sufi doctrine contains the jewels of the Islamic tradition, but its practices and rituals are still misunderstood sometimes.
Sufism – Sufi Initiation
In the past, in order to join an order, the seeker needed to go through a rigorous process of annihilation of the ego and detachment from the physical world. The stages of initiation included fasting, little sleep, isolation and celibacy. The seeker then was given his garments, a secret word to help in the meditation and should expect visions and dreams in which spiritual guides would reveal themselves.
The path to enlightenment was tortuous but it is said that every person who seeks illumination go through the same stages in order to reach the truth, so feelings like fear, sadness and impatience were expected and the disciple should overcome them as every Sufi master has been through the exact same emotions. The result of transcending these stages is entering in the state of Baqa`, this is when the Sufi reborns to the world.