From a Qadriya Sufi standpoint,
no one path, tradition, teaching, or teacher
has a monopoly on the Truth.
There are many ways that have led, and still lead,
spiritual seekers to their ultimate Goal.
This concept, called spiritual pluralism,
can be summarized in 5 simple points:
in the Scriptures
For Sufis, every tradition has its wisdom and every scripture is sacred. The essential Reality shared by these paths is referenced in every major scripture.
"Verily, those who have attained to faith, as well as those who follow the Jewish faith, and the Christians, and the Sabians–all who believe in the Beloved, accountability for their actions, and do righteous deeds–shall have their reward with their Sustainer; no fear need they have, and neither shall they grieve."
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"In my Father's house, there are many mansions."
The Holy Bible
"Truth is One, but called by different names;
the Beloved is One, but can be approached in many ways." (Rig Veda, 1.164.46)
A Rich History
of Spiritual Pluralism
Any spiritual tradition that is solely focused on attaining
the Divine is inherently pluralistic.
As the Sufi saying goes:
"A knower recognizes a knower."
The garden of the Qadriya blooms abundant
with fragrant saints who perfume
humanity with tolerance, service, and love.
The Sufi tradition also shares this characteristic, and the Qadriya order has a rich history of spiritual pluralism. Indeed, the most pluralistic Sufis have been either directly or indirectly associated with the Qadriya order in particular.
Below are just a few exemplary Sufis whose lives are a testimony to the pluralism, tolerance, and harmony of the Qadriya Sufi Way.
The Prince of Lovers
The Beloved of the Beloved
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ
“There are as many paths to the Divine as there are human breaths.”
The Prince of Lovers and fountainhead of the Sufi path brought the message of the Mercy and Unity of the Divine Beloved. He and his companions embraced and celebrated Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians and others in their community, emphasizing the essential, inner spiritual life shared by all seekers.
During the expansion of the community, the Prophet’s ﷺ companions reached St. Catherine’s Monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai. Recognizing the holiness of the place and sincerity of the Christian monks, he dictated the Achtiname, a document of pluralism and tolerance that guaranteed the monks' protection until the end of time.
The Shaykh al-Akbar
H. Ibn al-Arabi
رضي الله عنه
This Qadri saint lived a life of intense devotion to the Beloved. His life and experiences, shared through his thousands of pages of writings, are some of the most profound and inspiring examples of the Sufi path of love, gentleness, and pluralism.
The Shaykh al-Akbar (“The Greatest Shaykh”) taught that the essence of all belief and religion is the same—to achieve the greatest comprehension of the Divine Beloved, one must not be limited by attachment to a single viewpoint. Instead, a unique facet of the Divine Truth must be sought in each and every belief.
a garden among the flames!
My heart can take on
a meadow for gazelles,
a cloister for monks,
For the idols, sacred ground,
Ka'ba for the circling pilgrim,
the tables of the Torah,
the scrolls of the Qur'án.
I profess the religion of love;
wherever its caravan turns
along the way,
that is the belief,
the faith I keep.
Our Master Mawlana
رضي الله عنه
The founder of the beautiful Mevlevi Sufi Order, Hazrat Rumi was an ecstatic Sufi who was madly in love with the Divine. His mystical inclinations were sowed in his heart during his upbringing, for his father Sultan Valad (raa), was a Sufi saint himself and raised his son in the company of spiritual seekers.
After becoming a scholarly teacher but still longing for spiritual depth, Hazrat Rumi met his master Hazrat Shams Tabriz (raa). Shams was the flame that lit the fire of Divine love in the heart of Hazrat Rumi. His life and being became a wellspring of intense devotion, love, and pluralism, expressed through his masterful poetry.
"The sect of Love is different
from all other religions.
For lovers, their sect and religion
is simply the Beloved"
The Saint of Unity
H. Mian Mir
رضي الله عنه
An illustrious Qadri Sufi saint from Lahore, Pakistan. Mian Mir brought spiritual solace to people from all faiths. He cultivated a beautiful friendship with the 5th Sikh guru, Arjan Dev (RAA), who later invited him to lay the foundation stone of the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the holiest site of the Sikh religion. His friendship and act are one of the most beautiful examples of what it means to be a Qadri -- recognizing and encouraging the sincere spiritual intentions of others, regardless of creed.
"In the path of effort for God,
there is no difference between
the Hindu and the Muslim"
The Sufi Prince
H. Dara Shikoh
رضي الله عنه
A Mughal prince who spent his life devoted to the Beloved, delved into the depths of Islamic and Hindu spirituality, and came forth with the pearls of their common essence. Following the footsteps of his master H. Mian Mir (RAA), he fostered tender relationships among different religions, encouraging a spirit of understanding the commonalities, rather than the differences, of the spiritual paths. The master translated the sacred Hindu scripture, The Upanishads, into Persian, allowing Muslims and Zoroastrians to benefit from its wisdom. After intensive study and discourse with many spiritual masters, he wrote a treatise on the similarities between Hindu and Sufi spiritual concepts and terminology.
"Having had repeated discourse and discussion
with the doctors and perfect divines of this [Hindu] religion, who had attained the highest pitch of perfection in religious exercises, comprehension, intelligence and insight, he did not find any difference, except verbal, in the way in which they sought and comprehended Truth"
The Sufi Commander
H. Emir Abd al-Qadir
رضي الله عنه
A Qadri Sufi saint who led a life of love and complete surrender to the Divine. Raised in a Sufi zawiya, but forced to lead a resistance to brutal French invasions, the Emir never let his worldly duties distract him from remembering the Divine. He was renowned for his nobility as an officer, but also for his gentleness and softness toward prisoners. He would harshly reprimand any of his own soldiers if they attempted to force Christian prisoners to change their religion. Once the war was over, he retired to Damascus and lived a life of pacifism, contemplation, and spiritual pursuits
In Damascus, tensions among religious groups climaxed in violent riots against Christians. During the riots, the Emir and his followers personally saved over 10,000 Christians. He fearlessly attested that no one religion or creed has a monopoly on the Truth, and his life was a beautiful example of this inner conviction.
"None of His creatures worships Him in all His aspects;
none is unfaithful to Him in all His aspects.
No one knows Him in all His aspects;
no one is ignorant of Him in all His aspects."
The Sufi Satguru
H. Sai Baba
رضي الله عنه
"Everyone's Master is One."
A humble saint who devoted his life to serving spiritual seekers of all religions. Sai Baba grew up in the tender care of Hindu and Muslim spiritual teachers. He refused to identify with any religion, yet also refused to separate himself from any path. As he unconditionally served all who came to him and taught them according to their chosen path, he became revered by Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and Zoroastrians.
The Servant of the Essence
H. Sant Kabir
رضي الله عنه
An eloquent poet who identified only with the Divine, rather than a particular religion. Kabir saw the limitations that man created when identifying with a particular religion or creed. He criticized the external focus of the priests and maulanas, which forced him into exile. He refused to let sectarianism and divisiveness hold back his love for the Divine, and his intense, direct, and ecstatic poetry encouraged Hindus and Muslims to do the same.
When he passed on to reunite with the Beloved, his Hindu and Muslim followers could not agree on a method of burial—either the Hindu practice of cremation or the Muslim tradition of burial. As they argued, Kabir appeared before them and told them to remove the shroud over his body. Beneath it were only fragrant roses, which each group could take to bury or burn as they wished.
"Hari is in the East, Allah is in the West.
Look within your heart, for there
you will find both Karim and Ram.
All the men and women of the world
are His living forms.
Kabir is the child of Allah and of Ram.
He is my Guru, He is my Pir."
The Ecstatic Master
H. Bulleh Shah
رضي الله عنه
An ecstatic and fearless Sufi poet who saw the Divine manifested in all human beings. He drew no distinction between Muslims, Hindus, or Sikhs—instead, he emphasized that in the court of loving the Beloved, all are the same. Much of his life was spent cultivating harmony among bickering religious groups and helping them see that, despite their differences in practice, their Ultimate Goal was the same.
"Going to Makkah is not the ultimate
even if hundreds of prayers are offered;
going to River Ganges is not the ultimate
even if hundreds of cleansing (Baptisms) are done;
going to Gaya is not the ultimate
even if hundreds of worships are done;
Bulleh Shah the Ultimate is
when the "I" is removed from the heart!"
The Hindu Sufi
H. Manik Prabhu
رضي الله عنه
A beautiful saint who was completely devoted to the path of love. He taught the philosophy of sakalamata, meaning “all faiths,” which asserted that all spiritual paths are equally capable of bringing their followers to the Divine. He was cherished in the hearts of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and Jains, all of whom revered him as per their path.
During his numerous travels, he was welcomed at the tomb of Huzur Ghosepak (RAA) and his Sufi devotees treasured him as a Qadri. To this day, the Gyaravi Sharif (regular celebration for Huzur Ghosepak) is celebrated at his temple.
The Qutb for the West
H. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen
رضي الله عنه
A gentle and tender Qadri saint who migrated from Sri Lanka to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1972. During his 14 years in the United States, his loving presence and universal outlook touched the hearts of thousands. Students from many religious backgrounds found solace and a new perspective on spirituality. Although he could not speak English, he spoke the language of the heart. He would teach students as per their background, regardless of their religion or lack thereof. Today his loving students, whom he would refer to as "jeweled lights of my eyes," remain organized and dedicated to preserving and sharing the nourishing teachings he brought.
Following his return to the Beloved in 1986, his students constructed the only mazaar (Sufi Shrine/Tomb) in the United States. Nestled in the Pennsylvanian countryside, it is a place of tranquility and blessings, where people from all walks of life can derive solace from the master's presence. Students of QSFA lovingly covet the mazaar as a place of sacred pilgrimage.
"God is One.
He proclaims, 'My religion is to recognize
all lives as one’s own life,
all religions as one’s own religion,
all languages as one’s own language,
all vision as one’s own vision.'
It is in this state that God conducts His kingdom.
He has no partialities, no religious differences,
nor prejudices based on skin color,
whether it be black, red, white, or yellow.
In His kingdom, there is no fighting."