Divinity of Jesus Essay

2750 Words 11 Pages
Divinity of Jesus

During the eighth and ninth centuries A.D., a new emphasis began to develop within the religion of Islam. This emphasis was a reaction against the prevailing impersonal and formal nature of Islam. For many Muslims the shari‘a, while seen as necessary, failed to satisfy their deepest spiritual longings and desires. The search for deeper meaning began with a pietistic asceticism, which in turn led to the development of the popular mystical side of Islam - known as tasawwuf or Sufism.
The controversial nature of the subject of Sufism becomes evident when one realizes that this short introduction already reveals a viewpoint which the Sufi would strongly disagree with. For, if the Sufi spiritual quest is to be viewed
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To admit this would be devastating to the religion of Islam. Yet, if Islam is to be defended as a spiritually adequate, Sufi doctrine and practice must be proven to be inherently Islamic in nature, as “to suggest that Islamic mysticism is, in fact, a borrowing from outside raises the spectre of denial of the intrinsically spiritual nature of Islam and thence the spiritual nature of Muslims themselves.”3

Thus we are left with several controversial, yet critically important questions. First, was Sufism present from the very beginnings of Islam, in the life of Muhammad and the Quran? Secondly, has Sufism borrowed from the outside - from other religions? And finally, how does the evidence for the answers to these questions reflect on the nature of Islam itself?

Sufism has influenced many Muslims, and is, especially in the West, portrayed and regarded as a valuable and legitimate part of the Islamic faith. Fazlur Rahman, in his work Islam, says that “considerable ink has been spent by modern scholarship on the ‘origins’ of Sufism in Islam, as to how far it is ‘genuinely’ Islamic and how far a product, in the face of Islam, of outside influences, particularly Christian and Gnostic.”4 Rahman seems to hint that some of this ink has been wasted, as he concludes that “outside influences must have played an accessory role and these no one may deny, but they must have supervened upon an initial native tendency.” However, aside from a vague
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