Spirituality and Religion:
A Qadriya Sufi Perspective
From a Qadriya Sufi standpoint, the Sufi path is not a religion. The journey to self-realization ultimately transcends all differences in creeds and faiths, for every spiritual path is merely a means to this Ultimate Goal.
The only religion a Sufi identifies with is love. As Hazrat Rumi says,
“The sect of Love is different from all other religions
For lovers, their sect and religion is simply God”
At the same time, Qadriya Sufis adhere to the beautiful example of the Prophet (pbuh) and all the Divine Messengers. In reality, the way of all the messengers is one. It is through the beauty of their inner and outer examples that love can reach completeness.
"Be in yourself a matter
for all forms of belief,
for the Beloved is too vast
to be restricted to one belief
rather than another."
H. Ibn Arabi
رضي الله عنه
What is the Difference Between Sufis and Religion?
Only the Goal
Generally speaking, adherents to religion are concerned with salvation, while Sufis are concerned with sanctification. The religious person may see their religion as separate, better, or the only way, while the Sufi sees all paths as one. The religious person strives to do good in this life and go to heaven, while the Sufi strives to perfect themselves and seek only the Beloved in this life and the next.
Believers pray to God for the protection of faith,
But few pray for the gift of his love.
I am ashamed at what they ask for,
Even more at what they are willing to yield.
Religion is quite unaware of the spiritual plane,
To which love can raise us.
O Lord, keep my love for you ever fresh,
Says Bahu: I shall mortgage my religion for it.
H. Sultan Bahu
رضي الله عنه
Only what leads to the Goal
Religion can often distract a devotee with details of religious law, external practices, and irrelevant theology. Sufis are only concerned with that which will purify their hearts, increase their love, strengthen their detachment, and bring them closer to the Beloved.
This is illustrated by a beautiful story about the Sufi saint Hazrat Bishr al-Hafi (raa) and the Islamic scholar Imam Hanbal (ra). Imam Hanbal used to frequently visit Hazrat Bishr. Imam Hanbal’s students would protest this, saying “In our time you are the world’s pre-eminent scholar of traditions, law, theology, jurisprudence and every science, yet every spare moment you seek out the company of this man? How can that be right?”
Imam Hanbal replied, “It is true that of all the sciences you have mentioned I have more knowledge than Bishr, but he knows God more than I do.”
Sufis can also have roles as religious leaders. Our grandmaster, Babuji (raa), was a judge of Islamic law (qazi) for the state of Rajasthan, India. He also studied under the younger son of Imam Ahmad Raza Khan Barelvi (raa) was himself a Sufi saint and influential scholar. Yet this function does not define a Sufi. It is merely a service they may or may not take part in, while their true function is to guide souls toward the Beloved.
What is the Difference Between Sufism and Islam?
Throughout the centuries and up to the present day, both of these words have picked up various connotations which are disputed among religious and academic scholars. There is a lot of information and opinions about these matters, which can become very confusing for a seeker. Because of this lack of clarity, we attempt to provide an explanation that makes matters clear to the contemporary seeker.
We simply give the Qadriya Sufi standpoint, not from a book or as a doctrine, but as a reality that is lived and has been passed down from heart to heart:
“Everything is Islam.
If God’s teaching is there,
it is Islam.
Bringing man out of ignorance
step by step is Islam.”
H. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen
رضي الله عنه
“If a Muslim but knew
what an idol is,
he would know
that all religion is idolatry.”
رضي الله عنه
“Not an Arab nor Lahori,
Not a Hindi or Nagouri,
Nor a Muslim or Peshawari,
Not a Buddhist or a Christian.
Bulleh, I know not who I am..”
H. Bulleh Shah
رضي الله عنه
The literal meaning of islam is "the path of complete surrender to the Divine Beloved." From this standpoint, every Divine Messenger came with the path of islam--complete devotion and surrender to the Ultimate Reality. The Divine Messengers came as a mercy to all varieties of people. During their times, each Divine Messenger had followers who gave themselves completely to the path, and these we would call Sufis. At the same time, the majority of followers did not incline to complete inner and outer dedication, and so established doctrines, creeds, and eventually institutionalized religions. Eventually, the organized religion established by followers of the Prophet (pbuh) came to be known as "Islam." Though the word for "Islam" has a meaning, the organized religion itself does not necessarily fulfill the meaning today. There is many a non-"Muslim" who follows islam in another way, and there is many a "Muslim" who does not follow islam.
For people who are simply seeking a balanced life and salvation in the hereafter, organized religion is enough. For the Sufi pining for sanctification in this life, they must go further. From our standpoint, the current form of "Islam" or any world religion is not representative of what a Sufi practices and strives for. This is not because the paths themselves are flawed, but because the essence of what the Messengers brought has fallen through the cracks, while dogmas, creeds, and exclusivism have taken precedence.
Rather than trying to reclaim or reform religion from the inside, our Qadriya Sufi tariqa disassociates from organized religion altogether. Sufis may have commonalities with some aspects of religions--they may go to the same sacred places, do similar practices, and read the same scriptures, but the intention is completely different.
“What is the Qadriya Tariqa?
To polish the heart
and to join hearts together”
H. Mawlana Chaman Qadri
رضي الله عنه
“A Sufi can fit in anywhere,
yet can fit in nowhere.”
Shaykh Dr. Ghulam Jilani
Nonetheless, Qadriya Sufis also avoid falling into unfocused, unstructured, and dispersed universalism (i.e., picking and choosing from different paths). In practice, the Qadriya order is rooted in the beautiful methodology and lifestyle (sunnah) displayed by the head of our lineage, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). This methodology is unique in its flavor, but is, in essence, the same as every other messengers'—to purify and soften the heart, dissolve attachment to the ego (nafs) and world (dunya), and bring one to closeness with the Divine.
A Path for Everyone Seeking Truth
Every heart has obstacles to overcome, and seekers with different religious/spiritual backgrounds will all have their own unique hurdles on their journey.
Nonetheless, the Qadriya Sufi tariqa is a garden for any person seeking provisions for their spiritual journey, for all are one in the religion of love. Any person, whether they are religious, Muslim, atheist, etc. can find a home at the zawiya of a Qadri. Every person is only a soul seeking the Divine, and none will ever be treated as anything other than that, Beloved willing!
Please enjoy some stories of how Qadriya Sufis have loved, welcomed, encouraged, and empowered seekers from many different paths:
“In loving you there are certainly no Muslims
In the religion of Love, there is no infidelity or disbelief
In Love, there is neither body nor reason nor heart nor soul
Everyone who does this is not separate from that.”
رضي الله عنه