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Jeff Maxwell
RELI E-1555
11 May 2016
Final Exam
Part I Identifications: Terms
The relation of the term ishq, a type of love, to Sufism is best contextualized by its presence in
the love mysticism of Sufi poetry and literature, and even more specifically in the genre of the
Ghazal, or love lyric. The Ghazal is thematically concerned with a particular worldview of love.
This love, ishq, is a complex of relationships between a lover, the ashiq, a Beloved, the mashuq,
and a rival, the raqib (Asani Lecture 8). The concept of ishq encompasses this worldview in
terms of a kind of love that is of a passionate nature that generates in the Sufi mystic, or the
lover, longing and yearning for a distant and inaccessible Beloved (Mystical Dimensions The
Path 137). Ishq plays an essential role in the figurative language and poetic imagination of Sufi
poets/mystics in that it links metaphorical love, which to the Sufi is earthly love, ishq-I majazi, to
what the Sufi considers to be the real, divine love, ishq-I haqiqi (Classical Persian Mystical
Poetry 68). Furthermore, this conception of metaphor as the bridge to reality alludes the
importance afforded to earthly, human love in Sufism in that it is understood to be a reflection of
the other-worldly, divine love. In Sufi love mysticism, therefore, human love becomes a means
by which the mystic can strive for divine love (ibid). Ultimately, the Sufi poet cultivates ishq in
the listener so as to inspire the longing that is so essential to the pursuit of the Beloved. (247

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In Islam Baraka is spiritual power ultimately emanating from God that can be transmitted
through prophets, God-friends, and other beings of high spiritual status. Therefore, Baraka can
be endowed innately in an object or person by God, or it can be acquired by means of its
transmission or inheritance (physically or as a spiritual blessing) from the person or object
endowed with it (Asani Lecture 7). Baraka establishes spiritual lineage, silsila, and legitimizes
descendancy from the Prophet Muhammad. The establishment of spiritual hierarchies and
lineages has been essential to the historical development of Sufi tariqas and their associated
spiritual credibility (Mystical Dimensions Sufi Orders and Fraternities 241). It is focused
around the Baraka of a Sufi God-friend that practices of veneration take place, especially at the
tomb-shrines of deceased Sufi Shaykhs, to which Baraka is attached. Baraka functions to extend
a tariqas influence beyond that of the elite circle of a Shaykhs close disciples. Sufi practices
and rituals have come to be adopted by lay adherents outside the Shaykhs elite circle seeking
Baraka, which illuminates the role of the Shaykh in his intercessory function (The Sufi Orders in
Islam 27). The Shaykh in this role has greater appeal to the masses. In this way the Sufi Shaykh,
or God-friend, becomes a reflection of the divine and acts as a mirror through which God can be
accessed. Because of the controversial nature of shrine worship, Sufis have defended their
traditions as Islamic by asserting their essential role in spreading Islamic teachings. (250 words)
Wahdat al-wujud / wahdat al-shuhud
Ibn Arabi, in his theosophical exposition of Sufi metaphysics, elaborates on his thesis of wahdat
al-wujud, or the unity of existence (Persian Sufi Poetry 4). Wahdat al-wujud is essentially
characterized as being Arabis unorthodox philosophical interpretation of tawhid, or Gods
oneness (Sufism in America 257). Arabis philosophical project was to articulate the experiential
aspect of the oneness of the experience of Being (The Sufi Path of Knowledge 3). Arabi is an

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exponent of the gnostic approach to mystical experience and insists that it is the Gnostics who
truly know God: one must be before one knows (4). For Arabi, phenomenal reality pre-exists as
ideas emanating from God (The Sufi Order in Islam 161). This knowing entails the ontological
unity of man and God (Mystical Dimensions 368) experienced as a subjective state (Persian Sufi
Poetry 61). The concept of wahdat al-wujud interrogates the true nature of reality from the
perspective of the inner, pre-phenomenal reality, or the batin. The multiplicity of the zahir is seen
as a continuous emanation of the one Reality (The Sufi Orders in Islam 58). In contrast, Ahmad
Sirhindi of the Naqshbandi order expounded the orthodox Islamic theology of wahdat al-shahud
in which there is a unity of phenomena and the phenomenal world is a reflection, rather than
an emanation, of Reality (The Sufi Orders in Islam 58). The subtlety of the distinction between
the two concepts are a point of contestation today between the Chishti and Naqshbandi Sufi
Orders. (243 words)
Part II Identifications: Texts
1. This is a poem by the Punjabi mystical poet of the Sufi Qadiriyya Order (Mystical Poetry in
the Vernaculars 143), Sultan Bahu (Death Before Dying: The Sufi Poems of Sultan Bahu Sultan
Bahus Mystical Poems 21). In this poem, Bahu extols love for the Sufi Shaykh above all. It is
neither through the acquisition of discursive knowledge from books (the Quran in its exoteric
meaning) nor through ritualistic practice of salat that the mystic can progress on the spiritual
path to attain the goal of fana, which in the Indo-Pakistani Sufi tradition is annihilation in the
God-Friend and ultimately annihilation in the Prophet (Mystical Poetry in the Vernaculars 155).
As a Sufi poet from South Asia, Bahu integrates influences from Hindu Vedanta (Sufi
Poetry in the Folk Tradition of Indo-Pakistan 91): the love for the Shaykh and annihilation in
him has been equated with the love for the guru in Indian advaita mysticism (Sufism in Indo-

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Pakistan 387). It is in this poem that Bahu contraposes love and reason. It is only through love
that the spiritual aspirant can attain knowledge of the Lord. At the same time, however, Bahu is
not wholly dismissive of discursive knowledge, but he is however making a clear differentiation
in the epistemological status attributed to love versus that which is attributed to reason. For
Bahu, it is discursive knowledge, ilm, that is epistemologically constrained because of the fact
that knowing God entails loving God. Love, therefore, is a prerequisite to being in love with
God, which Bahu places on equal footing with knowing God. In effect, he is making a strong
statement in defense of the power of love and its precedence over literacy (Asani Lecture 12).
Bahu further places primacy on his own poetry as an authoritative source of esoteric
knowledge. The source of his poetry, personal mystical experience, endows his words with
spiritual status, which Bahu presents as a mystical manifestation of the Quran. His poem,
therefore, can be seen as a direct criticism of the authority of discursive knowledge attained
through legalistic interpretation of the Quran. However, as an expression of marifa acquired
through mystical experience, Bahus poem acquires the authoritative status necessary to assert
evaluative statements regarding that which leads to attainment of the Lord. (375 words)
2. This passage is a ghazal, or love lyric, by the Persian mystic-poet Hafez and is found in The
Master of the Persian Ghazal (158). Hafezs ghazal features the symbolic imagery of
encountering the face of the Beloved, which mirrors the Prophets encounter with the face of
God at the miraj, and is an allusion to Sura 2:109 (Mystical Dimensions The Path 147). The
rich symbolism of this ghazal is shown by the presentation of the Beloveds disheveled locks
that veil His face and conceal Him from the narrator, the Lover (Asani Lecture 8). The
symbolism of the hair impedes contact between lover and Beloved and establishes the ishq of

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passionate love that is so characteristic of the themes of longing and unrequited love common to
the ghazal (Persian Sufi Poetry 65).
The Beloved is both intoxicated and intoxicating, entering with shirt torn open as if he
were opening the gates of Heaven. His lips, symbolizing the life giving property of the Beloved,
have a song on them, which is reminiscent of the Day of the Primordial Covenant (Sura 7:171)
where God brings creation into being. It is often described as a festive event of song and dance in
which drunkards come into existence from nonexistence (Music and Dance 51-3). The images
associated with wine links the Beloved, appearing with wine-cup in hand, to the Sufi Shaykh
as cup-bearer (Asani Lecture 8). The ambiguity common to the ghazal emerges with the
narrators account of eyes looking for trouble and lips softly complaining. There may be an
exchange, or perhaps unification, of lover and Beloved in this moment as the symbolism of the
eyes commonly refers to the lovers longing for the Beloved.
There is then an inversion of the traditional meaning of symbols in that wine, rather than
prohibited, comes to be the lovers means of self-sacrifice and is now, in fact, the opposite of
heretical (The Master of the Persian Ghazal 149). Furthermore, there is the direct criticism of the
religious preacher, or Puritan. The lover proclaims he is responding to Gods call made at the
Primordial Covenant and is acting in accord with His will. The lover-narrator usurps the moral
authority of the religious preacher and asserts his direct relationship with God. (373 words)
4. This passage is a quotation made by the hoopoe to the other birds regarding the Simurgh, the
king of the birds, in Farid-Ud-Din Attars Conference of the Birds. The hoopoe relates to the
assembly of other birds through the use of the imagery of pain and suffering that the seeker
(lover) of the Simurgh (Beloved) must possess strength, endurance, and a love that rejoices in

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suffering. The pain and suffering experienced on the mystical path are so intense it is as though
the lover is a polo-ball that is repeatedly hit by the polo stick of the Beloved.
The hoopoe warns the birds, as lovers on the path, their heads will be sent from side to
giddy side along the Way, alluding to the fact that they will be thrown off course seeking the
Beloved. The birds must give up everything, even their lives, and they are to enjoy, even indulge
in, the pain inflicted on them by the Beloved. The birds must become true martyrs of love
(Arabic Mystical Poetry 30). The lover must come to not only accept but also long for the
tribulations and games that the Beloved may play as if in a polo tournament. The lover, in turn, is
transformed in that suffering (Mystical Dimensions Historical Outlines 72). In fact, the greater
the trials and the more complex the games played by the Beloved are, the lover is to understand
as increasing nearness to the Beloved (The Path 137).
The lover must love the Beloved unconditionally in order to traverse the long and narrow
Way to His court. This love must be so unconditional that the lover will even renounce his faith.
In short, it is truly everything that the lover must give up. This kind of love between lover and
Beloved is so transformative that it renders the self, faith, and piety irrelevant. Self and faith no
longer have a place within the framework of unconditional love between lover and Beloved
(Asani Lecture 9). In essence, the lover will be tested so much so as to take from everything
other than the Beloved. The acceptance of this suffering was made on the Day of the Primordial
Covenant (The Path 136-7). (366 words)
Part III: Essay
The Chishti Tariqa, having originated in modern day Afghanistan, made inroads into South Asia
in the early 13th century. Mu'inuddin Chishti, from whom the silsila stems (The Sufi Orders in
Islam 22), fomented the establishment of networks of Chishti centers in North India, especially

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in Delhi (Sufis of Bijapur 24) after having settled in Ajmer (The Sufi Orders in Islam 65). These
centers marked the development of the more institutionalized structures needed to accommodate
increasing numbers of disciples (Sufi Orders and Fraternities 232). The Chishti order is
considered an order indigenous to India despite the fact that it did not officially emerge in India
(Sufis of Bijapur 45-6). Due to the ecumenicism that characterized the Chishti and the tariqas
open admission policies, which did not require one to be Muslim, the order expanded greatly
during this time. People of all types visited the pir and the centers remained open until midnight
(Sufis of Bijapur 47). The Chishtis did not discriminate among disciples and the teachings of
Chishti missionaries attracted Hindu converts (Sufism in Indo-Pakistan 345), which further
contributed to the Islamicization of India (346). Notably, at this time, the Chishti did not accept
subsidies or land grants and even opposed involvement in the court or worldly government (Sufis
of Bijapur 46). This refusal of patronage coincided with an early orthodox asceticism that was
central to the Chishti order (Mystical Dimensions Historical Outlines of Classical Sufism 36).
By the early modern period the Chishti Tariqa was immersed in the political context of
the Mughal Empire while under the rule of Emperor Akbar. Akbar was a Chishti devotee whose
patronage led to the tariqas acquisition of significant spiritual and political influence by the mid16th century. Akbars close connection to the Chishti Tariqa was reflected in his own political and
liberal religious policies. Akbar instituted a form of ecumenical Islam and promoted religious
tolerance, and, making recourse to the Sufi concept of the Perfect Man (The Sufi Path of
Knowledge 28-30), he issued the Edict of 1579. In this edict, Akbar asserted the legitimacy of his
kingship based on his own enlightenment and advanced spiritual progress. In effect, he was
claiming legal, spiritual, and political authority by proclaiming his legitimacy to rule subjects,
regardless of their religion, based on his ability to guide them to spiritual perfection. Akbar was

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essentially assuming the role of Sufi Shaykh (Asani Lecture 12). The Chishti Tariqa, both
receiving the patronage of Emperor Akbar and being the means through which he explored his
mystical interests, was correspondingly attributed power and influence within the political
landscape of the Mughal Dynasty. The relationship between the Mughal Empire and the Chishti
in the early modern period greatly contrast with the Chishtis rejection of government in the
medieval period (360).
The Chishti order and Sufi mysticism were politically engaged perhaps most prominently
through Emperor Akbars adherence to the doctrine of wahdat al-wujud, the unity of existence
(everything is He). While in observance of the unity of existence there is no realization of
separation between creator and created. This doctrine, present in the teachings of Ibn Arabi, was
adopted by Emperor Akbar as an idiom of power within the framework of political Islam in
India (Asani Lecture 12). Wahdat al-wujud supported the universalism to which Akbar appealed
in his political project to harmonize the conflicting interests among diverse religious groups. This
doctrine would later, however, come to be labelled as immature by Ahmad Sirhindi of the
Naqshbandi order. Sirhindi, who was very politically active, proposed that it was the doctrine of
wahdat al-shuhud, the unity of vision (everything is from He), that is superior to the Chishti
doctrine of wahdat al-wujud. Having reached the stage of wahdat al-shuhud one is able to realize
that there is a separation between creator and created. Following this realization, one is able to
return to the world and guide humanity having attained the highest spiritual status. In effect, the
competing philosophical notions guiding Sufi tariqas had come to be integral to the process of
claiming political authority (ibid).
Members of the Chishti order are noted for their literary contributions in the form of
poetry written in the vernacular (Asani Lecture 12). By writing in the vernacular mystical poets

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employed the use of folk tales, songs, and images from daily life as a medium of religious
instruction. Chishti poets, as mystics, were communicating mystical Islam to the masses. Since
Arabic and Persian were unknown to the non-elite, it was essential to use the vernacular in order
to transmit religious instruction to those on the periphery of major Islamic centers.
Chishti poets, as religious preachers, recognized this as an opportunity to spread Sufism
and mystical religious teachings (Mystical Poetry in the Vernaculars 136). The mystic-poets and
religious preachers of the Chishti Tariqa sought to reach the masses and to infuse into them the
love of God and His Prophet in words they could comprehend (137). In the case of Chishti
mystical leaders in India, there was the problem of the competing liturgical languages of Islam,
Arabic, and of Hinduism, Sanskrit. Since both languages were inaccessible to the masses,
however, Chishti writers were able to bypass such limitations by writing in indigenous
languages. Not only was this a way of bypassing the problem of literacy, it was also a way to
bypass both the Islamic scholars, the ulama, and the Hindu priestly caste that dominated the
production of literature (139). Therefore, the major artistic and literary contributions of the
Chishti were notable for their particularly subversive nature. In its subversion, Chishti folk
poetry served to assert the power of the pir over his followers. The emphasis placed on intuitive
knowledge, or marifa, rather than on discursive knowledge, or ilm, perhaps inspired within
those who had been marginalized from the dominant culture the possibility of spiritual
advancement without having acquired theological, exoteric knowledge from the ulama.
The Chishti order practices qawwali, which is a form of sama, a concert of mystical
music and dance (Arabic Mystical Poetry 17), and argues for the importance of music even in the
earliest texts with which it is associated (The Shambhala Guide to Sufism 187). Chishti orders
perform qawwali in highly stylized ways at the shrines of Sufi God-friends on their death

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anniversaries, or urs (Shambhala Guide 77). The performance of qawwali in the Chishti order is
also structured according to different spiritual experiences it wishes to evoke at various times
(188). For the Chishti, qawwali is a form of dhikr (Mystical Dimensions The Path 167) and the
order is known for its contributions to the Indo-Muslim musical tradition (Sufism in IndoPakistan 350).
The Chishti order has not only shaped the history of Sufi tariqas, but it has had political
influence from the medieval period through the early modern period to contemporary politics
concerning early Muslim immigration to the United States. Immigrants associated with the
Chishti order have shaped contemporary understandings of Sufism within the United States as
well as internationally. Interestingly, the question of whether Sufism is to be taken to be Islamic
and the controversies associated therewith persist (Asani Lecture 13). (1177 words)