Many people consider Sufism a mystical branch of Islam. Others define it as a mystical and spiritual teaching that is distinct from Islam, but is linked to Islam because most Sufis (people who practice Sufism) also follow Islam and intermix it with Sufism. Some historians trace the origins of Sufism to times that predate the founding of Islam.

Many Sufi teachings have some similarities to eastern philosophies such as Taoism, Zen Buddhism, and Confucianism.

Sufis have produced an enormous amount of literature over time, which accounts for a large percentage of the general philosophical works of the Middle East, as well as from nearby regions in India and Africa. Some Sufi philosophers that are well known in the western world include Jalal Al-Din Rumi and Hazrat Inayat Khan.

Sufi Proverbs

Grasp the moment; you can’t power a mill with water that has already passed by.

Those that have time and search for a better time will lose time.

Abundance can be had simply by knowingly receiving what has already been given.

Knowledge without its application is like water without wetness.

Never be enslaved to principles.

We are in this world, but not of it.

Behind every adversity lies a hidden possibility.

Bringing joy to one heart with love is better than one thousand repetitive prayer recitings.

Watching someone else eating will not satisfy you hunger; the spiritual experiences of others will not satisfy your yearning.

The treasure of joy is closer to you than you are to yourself—so why should you go searching from door to door?

If you pick up a bee due to kindness, you will learn the limitations of kindness.

There would be no such a thing as counterfeit gold if there weren’t real gold somewhere.

When a pickpocket sees a saint, all he sees are his pockets.

Wise company can also make you wise.

Asking good questions is half of learning

There is a difference between spending a night with a lover and a night with a toothache.

I searched for God, and found only myself. I searched for myself, and found only God.

A person who seeks God through logical proof is like someone who searches for the sun with a lamp.

Sufi Quotes

Amr ibn Uthman al-Makki

The Sufi acts corresponding to whatever is most fitting for the moment.

(Shaykh) Abu’l-Hasan Ash-Shadhili

(1100s-1200s) North African Sufi spiritual figure

The Sufi views his own experience as tiny bits of dust made visible by a ray of sunlight: neither real nor unreal.

(Farid Ud-Din/Al-Din) Attar

(Lived in 1000s and 1200s) Iranian Sufi Poet and writer of many books

[The Valley of] Understanding can be arrived at in various ways.

Your own heart is the living place of the Universe’s essence.

Salih always told his students, “If you constantly knock at someone’s door, one day it will be opened to you.”

Rabia heard him say this and remarked, “Salih, how much longer do you intend to preach this in the future tense, saying ‘will be opened?’ Was the door ever closed?”

Salih bowed in acknowledgement.

Rabi’a

(700s-800s) Sufi poet

…Do not allow anyone to oppress your soul.

Where part of you goes, the rest of you will eventually follow.

Hafiz

You yourself are your own obstacle—rise above yourself.

I caught the joy virus last night when I was out singing beneath the stars.

Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali

(1058-1128) Influential Iranian-Middle Eastern Sufi philosopher and writer

…The distinctive aspect of mysticism is something that cannot be understood by study, but only by dhawq [tasting / immediate experience]… There is a big difference between knowing the meaning and the causes of health and satiety, and being healthy and satisfied.

Khawwas

All wisdom can be expressed in two phrases: What is done for you—allow it to be done. What you must do yourself—make sure you do it.

Abu Sa’id Ibn Abi’l Khayr

(967-1049) Persian Sufi poet

Take a step away from yourself—and behold—the Path!

… Know that you know nothing and are no one.

Kashani

The lower self is preoccupied with showing itself in ways that will gain other people’s good opinions.

The lower self quickly gets bored of things. If it in someway is successful in getting what it wants, it will still not be satisfied. The lower self is unstable.

Qushayri

…[The lower self] constantly demands a person to act vainly in order to be complemented by others. Verily, there are plenty of spiritual seekers and holy people who are therefore controlled by their lower self.

Sufayan (or Sufyan) al-Thawri

(?-777) Sufi leader and teacher

If someone tells you, “You are a wonderful person!” and this pleases you more than if he said, “You are a bad person!” know that you are still a bad person.

Al-(or Ah-) Hujwiri

(?-1075) Sufi scholar and writer

[Once, Ibrahim bin Adham read an inscription a stone that said:] “You are not practicing what you know, so why do you seek what you do not know?”

There are two kinds of speech and two kinds of silence. Speech is either truth or falsehood, and silence is either realization or unattentiveness. The words of one who speaks the truth is better than silence, but for the person who makes up lies, his silence is better than his speech.

Bayazid (or Abu Yazid al) Bistami

(800-874) Sufi of Northwestern Iran

Early on, I was mistaken in four aspects. I endeavored to remember God, know Him, love Him, and seek Him. When I had reached the later stage [or I had got there], I realized that He remembered me before I remembered Him, He knew of me before I knew of Him, He loved me before I loved Him, and He sought me before I sought Him.

For thirty years I sought God. But when I reassessed the situation, I realized that it was He who sought me.

The thing we tell of can never be found be seeking, yet only seekers find it.

Al-Antaki

Act as if there were no one on earth but you, and no one in Heaven but God.

Ahmad Ibn Ata’Allah

(1200s) Sufi master and writer

Whatever you think concerning God—know that he is different from that!

Al-Hallaj

(888-922) Sufi from Baghdad

I saw my Lord with the eye of the heart. I said, “Who are you.” He said, “You.”

(Muhammad) Ibn’ Arabi

(1165-1240) Arabic Sufi teacher and writer of hundreds of books

Those who cherish God in the sun witness the sun, and those who cherish Him in living things observe a living thing, and those who cherish Him in lifeless things view a lifeless thing, and those who cherish Him as a unique and unequalled being see Him as such.

Beware of committing yourself exclusively to a specific belief so that you disbelieve everything else, or else you will miss out on much good—in fact, you will miss out on recognizing the authentic truth. God, the all-present and all-powerful, is not limited to any single belief. Wherever you turn, there is the face of Allah.

The entire world is truly imagination. Only He [God] is real reality. Anyone who understands this knows the secrets of the spiritual path.

(Maulana) Jalal Al-Din (or Jalaluddin) Rumi

(1207-1273) Iranian Sufi poet; among his writings include the very well known Mathnawi

A person cannot live in “if.”

Be concerned with what you truly value; let the thief steal something else.

Conventional opinion hampers our souls.

You already possess the powerful mixture that will make you well—use it.

Appear as you are; be as you appear.

Each person has been made for some specific work, and the longing for that work has been put into every heart.

Ah! Joyous is the soul that saw its own faults.

The satiated man and the hungry man do not see the same thing when they look at a loaf of bread.

…People don’t observe themselves, and thus they blame one another.

Your mission isn’t to look for love, but simply to search and locate the barriers within you that have formed against it.

We waste our energy designing and carrying out plans to become what we already are.

The act of trying to find the way home is what convinces us we are lost. We’re not lost; we’re not alone; and we’ve never even left home.

Oh tongue; you are an infinite fortune. Oh tongue; you are also an infinite ailment.

Treasures and armies do not make a king. A true king is a king within himself.

Become your own fortune… Seek the bounty within yourself.

All darkness is followed by sunshine.

Outside of the concepts of misdeed and good deed, there is a field. I will meet you there.

If you—wandering Sufi—are looking for the supreme treasure, do not look outside. Look within, and seek that.

Although we appear to be asleep, there exists a wakefulness in us that guides the dream, and that will also eventually frighten us back to the truth of who we are.

Everything you observe has its roots in the unseen world. The forms may change, but the essence stays the same. Every awesome sight will disappear, and every sweet word will fade away; but do not be dejected—for their source is eternal, growing, branching out, and giving new life and new joy. Why do you weep? The source is in you, and this whole world is springing up from it.

Hazrat Inayat Khan

(1882-1927) Indian musician and Sufi teacher who is accredited with bringing Sufism to the West

No one should allow his mind to be a vehicle for others to use; he who does not direct his own mind lacks mastery.

The secret of life is balance, and the absence of balance is life’s destruction.

A responsible person is worth more than a thousand men who labor.

All things become wrong when they are not in their right time or when they are not in their proper place.

You need not do something today [just] because you did it yesterday.

Worrying about the faults of others is an unnecessary addition to the worry we have over our own faults.

While man judges another from his own moral standpoint, the wise man looks also at the point of view of another.

Overlook the greatest fault of another, but do not partake of it in the smallest degree.

Do not take the example of another as an excuse for your own wrongdoing.

When speech is controlled, the eyes speak; the glance says what words can never say.

It is seldom that too little is said and too much is done, but often the contrary.

Many feel, a few think, and fewer still there are who can express their thoughts.

Wisdom is not in words; it is in understanding.

Speaking wisdom is much easier than living it.

One word of the truly inspired answers a hundred questions and avoids a thousand unnecessary words of explanation.

The mind is its question, and it is itself its answer.

Every soul has a definite task, and the fulfillment of each individual purpose can alone lead man aright; illumination comes to him through the medium of his own talent.

The present is the reflection of the past, and the future is the re-echo of the present.

The mystic retains something of childhood all through his life.

Wisdom existed before the wise; life existed before the living; love existed before the lover.

We start our lives trying to be teachers; it is very hard to learn to be a pupil.

Words that enlighten are more precious than jewels.

One single moment of a sincere life is worth more than a thousand years of a life of falsehood.

Reason is the illusion of reality.

Reality itself is its own evidence.

Many evils are born of riches, but still more are bred in poverty.

The whole world’s treasure is too small a price to pay for a word that kindles the soul.

To be really sorry for one’s errors is like opening the door of heaven.

Life is an opportunity, and it is a great pity if man realizes this when it is too late.

Insight into Life is the real religion, which alone can help man to understand Life.

To learn the lesson of how to live is more important than any psychic or occult knowledge.

The more a man explores himself, the more power he finds within.

He is an unbeliever who cannot believe in himself.

Man looks for wonders; if he only saw how very wonderful is the heart of man!

It is more important to know the truth about one’s self than to try to find out the truth of heaven and hell

The source of the realization of truth is within man; he himself is the object of his realization.

There is no greater scripture than nature, for nature is life itself.

A study of life is the greatest of all religions, and there is no greater or more interesting study.

The lover of nature is the true worshipper of God.

As a child learning to walk falls a thousand times before he can stand, and after that falls again and again until at last he can walk; so are we little children before God.

God is the answer to every question.

What limits God? His name.

Vilayat Inayat Khan

(1916-) Worldwide spiritual teacher; son of Hazrat Inayat Khan

Have the courage to face the light of your own being.

Do you think that you aren’t free? You are free, but you do not know that you are free—and it is your not knowing that you are free that is your limitation and your imprisonment. Realize your freedom, and you are free.

Al-Suhrawardi

(1100s-1200s) Sufi writer and theologian who lived in Baghdad and Bengal / India

For people who hear about the Sufi teaching and put it into practice, it becomes wisdom in their hearts, and others who listen to them will benefit. But for those who hear but do not put it into practice, Sufism is just talk that will be forgotten after several days.

by Rodney Hebsion

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