The Persian Sufis

The Sufi phenomenon is not easy to sum up or define.
The Sufis never set out to found a new religion, a mazhab
or denomination. They were content to live and work within the framework
of the Moslem religion, using texts from the Quran much as Christian
mystics have used to Bible to illustrate their tenets. Their aim
was to purify and spiritualize Islam from within, to give it a deeper,
mystical interpretation, and infuse into it a spirit of love and
liberty. In the broader sense, therefore, in which the word religion
is used in our time, their movement could well be called a religious
one, one which did not aim at tying men down with a new set of rules
but rather at setting them free from external rules and open to
the movement of the spirit.

This religion was disseminated mainly by poetry,
it breathed in an atmosphere of poetry and song. In it the place
of great dogmatic treatises is taken by mystical romances, such
as Yusuf and Zuleikha or Leila and Majnun. Its one dogma, and interpretation
of the Moslem witness: 'There is no god by God', is that the human
heart must turn always, unreservedly, to the one, divine Beloved.

Who was the first Sufi? Who started this astonishing
flowering of spiritual love in Lyrical poetry and dedicated lives?
No one knows.

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